Toronto, Nov 26: A 35-year-old Indian-origin Sikh MLA in Canada was killed in a tragic car accident while doing a good Samaritan act.
Manmeet Bhullar, a Progressive Conservative Party MLA from Calgary-Greenway, died on Monday on the Queen Elizabeth II highway near Edmonton when an out-of-control semi-trailer hit him after he stopped to help a fellow motorist who had lost control on the snowy road.
"It's devastating for everyone who knew Manmeet and knew what he did and his sense of spirituality and public service and what a fine person he was," said former Alberta Premier Jim Prentice.
"You really could not go anywhere in Alberta without being struck by the sense of admiration and affection and love that people in this province had for Manmeet as a political leader. This was a man who was in politics for all of the right reasons," Prentice was quoted as saying by the CBC news.
"He was doing a Good Samaritan act, and he was doing almost exactly what we do. He was trying to help someone, and trying to pull someone out of the ditch. It's absolutely tragic," said Ryan Lemont, a tow-truck driver.
Bhullar was a respected politician known for his compassion and his demise has sent the entire province in a state of mourning. Flags on provincial buildings were lowered to half-mast until sunset in view of his funeral.
"I watched him grow into the incredible person that he became, who was really known throughout the province for his sense of public service and his commitment to other people," said Prentice, a lawyer who knew Bhullar from a young age and helped Sikh community to get their first temple built in the province which they had been demanding for very long.
"I always thought that he would go on to other political leadership roles. But he accomplished so very much in his 35 years, it's incredible." Prentice said.
Calgary Mayor Naheed Nenshi said Bhullar's pulling over to help a stranger is "exactly" fitting with his character.
"It's a horrible thing to say, but it's almost appropriate in that, if he was going to go, that he went helping somebody," Nenshi said.
"He left us while he was doing what he loved more than anything helping someone else" Bhullar's family said in a statement following his death.
Born in Calgary, Bhullar belonged to a family from Raiya village in Amritsar. He was chosen the youngest MLA from Alberta in 2008. He also served as Service Alberta Minister in 2011 and Human Services Minister in 2013.