‘An early birthday present’: Supporters of Vancouver skateboarder celebrate hit-and-run charges

Supporters of a Vancouver skateboarder who was killed in a hit-and-run in 2016 are celebrating the fact that charges have been laid against the man who allegedly struck him.

Ryan Barron, 30, was skateboarding with a friend near Heather Street and West 54th Avenue when he was struck by a car in the early hours of the morning on April 17, 2016.

Mike Budinsky, a former bandmate and friend of Barron’s since he was 15, said the announcement of charges against 23-year-old Amanpreet Sohal has been overwhelming, both to him and to Barron’s mother.

“She said it was an early birthday present for her because she’s been waiting on this,” Budinsky said.

“Beyond having her son back, there’s nothing she wanted more than putting a name and face to this and finally getting justice for her son.”

Budinsky added: “It was really hard on me, and I can only imagine how it would be on his mom, not even knowing if a charge is even going to end up being laid.”

The vehicle involved in the hit-and-run accident that killed Ryan Barron on April 17, 2016.

Police located the suspect vehicle in the hit-and-run back in 2016, a badly damaged silver 2004 Mitsubishi Lancer, but it took more than two years for investigators to build a tight enough case for the Crown to lay charges.

Budinsky said the wait was excruciating.

“I think most people could have figured it out, what happened, and the police are amazing at that kind of stuff, they’re professionals … so it was really surprising that it took so long,” he said.

Budinsky and Barron.

“When I heard [Thursday] night that they arrested him, it was just a big relief because I’ve been waiting for this for a long time. There’s been a lot of anger and sadness around this,” Budinsky said.

Budinsky described Barron as a bright light and leading member of the Windsor, Ont., music scene who always had time to mentor younger skateboarders and musicians.

“He was a really good guy. He was the kind of person who would give you the shirt off their back. He helped a lot of people; he didn’t judge people,” Budinsky said.

“He was just always there for a lot of people. Everyone just remembers him as that nice guy that just wanted to help people.”

Budinsky said Barron’s supporters have been raising money to try and build a memorial skateboarding bowl in Windsor in Barron’s name for the next generation of youth.

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