Andrés Salek was looking forward to graduating from the Royal Military College in Kingston, Ontario, and taking on a more practical role in the Canadian military before dying in a tragic crash, his friend Denis Zvynka recalled.
“He always told me how excited he was about his next steps,” Zvynka said.
Salek was about to graduate with a degree in military and strategic studies, but on April 29, Salek passed away.
A vehicle carrying him and fellow fourth-year cadets, Jack Hogarth, Andrei Honciu, and Broden Murphy, entered the water shortly after 2 a.m. at Point Frederick, a peninsula that runs between Kingston Harbor and Navy Bay on the St. Lawrence River.
The Canadian Forces National Investigation Service, the independent branch of the Canadian Forces Military Police, is investigating.
Zvynka, who met Salek during their freshman year of high school in Etobicoke, a community in west Toronto, said he immediately texted and called his friend when he saw the news last week.
“None of the texts went through. I had a terrible feeling in my stomach. As time went on, I only got worse and worse until I found out he was actually one of the victims,” he said.
Friend admired his stamina
Zvynka and Salek bonded over sushi, beer and basketball, Zvynka said.
They also made the move to Kingston together: Zvynka went on to study at Queen’s University, Salek, to the Canadian Armed Forces military college, which has been awarding degrees since 1959.
Salek was preparing to become an armored officer, said Commodore Josée Kurtz, the college’s commander.
According to the Canadian Armed Forces website, armored officers provide reconnaissance and direct fire support in combat from armored fighting vehicles such as tanks.
Zvynka called Salek a “selfless” friend who put the needs of others before himself.
“Now that he’s gone, you think back to those moments,” Zvynka said.
Zvynka also admired Salek’s stamina after the pair stayed late in Kingston.
“He’d tell me, ‘By the way, I have to get up in three hours to drill.’ I never knew how he would do it, but the next morning he would send me a picture or something and he would be him by the lake at 6 a.m. And I was hours away from waking up.”
Zvynka said Salek had passed his sophomore year and was hanging out at the base. They made plans to meet in Toronto this summer.
“He was just a nice person. Now that he’s gone, I feel like the average kindness in a person drops drastically.”
The college said details about a memorial service will be revealed at the discretion of the victims’ families.
On Monday, the House of Commons observed a moment of silence in memory of Salek and the other lost cadets.
Bruce-Grey-Owen Sound MP Alex Ruff, a retired Canadian Forces Colonel, was among those also making comments.
In the @OurCommons today I paid tribute @RMCCanadaCMR Officer Cadets Jack Hogarth, Andrei Honciu, Broden Murphy & Andrés Salek who died tragically last Friday. My deepest condolences & condolences to all families & friends. #RiP #TDV #LestWeForget a> @rmc97reunion pic.twitter. com/sUQYKLNkTH