A Nanaimo man who recently moved to Edmonton to pursue work and his love of rugby died after an altercation on the weekend.
Gabriel Gregg, 31, died Wednesday after he was allegedly struck during an assault early Sunday.
The incident happened in downtown Edmonton.
Edmonton police report Gregg was found lying on the ground when officers arrived at about 3 a.m. He was rushed to hospital with serious injuries.
Derrick Shawn Hansen, 36, of Edmonton, was charged with one count of manslaughter for allegedly assaulting Gregg.
Pat Milford, a longtime friend and former teammate, said Gregg died after artificial life support was discontinued Wednesday.
Gregg was a building contractor and played with the Nanaimo Hornets Rugby Club.
He moved to Edmonton May 29 to work in construction and had joined the Strathcona Druids Rugby team.
Milford, who is coaching the Regina Condors in Saskatchewan, said Gregg was out on the town celebrating after playing his first game with the Druids when the assault occurred.
The two talked on the phone shortly beforehand.
“Probably an hour before the incident happened we talked and he was talking about how happy he was there and how lucky we were to have this opportunity in the summer to make some money and have another great rugby family to be a part of,” Milford said. “It was about 1 a.m. when we talked on the phone last, so that was pretty hard to take.”
Milford described Gregg as someone who never let life get him down, was consistently happy, loved to party and the kind of guy who took care of people around him, regularly hiring team members who needed work and bought the beer when friends were low on cash.
“Whenever there was fun around our club, Gabe was there. He was kind of the ringleader for that kind of stuff,” Milford said.
Members of Gregg’s family rushed to Edmonton to be at his side and say their goodbyes when life support was discontinued.
Gregg was an organ donor. Seven of his organs were given to six people awaiting transplants.
“If you have to see some sort of a silver lining it’s pretty nice that, in his passing, he could help six families,” said John Hanson, Nanaimo Hornets past president.
In Gregg’s honour, Nanaimo Hornets Club’s refrigerator was stocked with nothing but Lucky lager – his favourite beer – for the team’s social night Thursday.
Gregg was also a member of the Young Professionals of Nanaimo and volunteered his carpentry skills to building the organization’s community gardens.
He is described on the organization’s website as a someone who was always there when a helping hand was needed, with an upbeat personality and one-of-a-kind voice who will be missed by many.
Milford has written an article about Gregg that also chronicles the alleged circumstances of his death for B.C. Rugby News. It can be viewed at www.bcrugbynews.com.