Dustin Descoteau had finally found his dream life as a cowboy, after moving to Kamloops for work.
The talented welder, guitarist, outdoorsman and father of four — with a Métis heritage — was born and raised in the Duncan-Chemainus area, graduated from Cowichan secondary, and recently bonded with the Kamloops First Nation.
But hard-working Descoteau’s young life was cut short during last Wednesday’s rollover crash along the Coquihalla Highway near Kamloops.
He was just 29.
His father, Paul, was shaken about the sudden death of his popular, eldest son whom he got working with ironworkers at age 16 in High Level, Alberta. Even back then, his boy quickly became the well-liked boss of guys 25 years older.
“Dustin excelled at anything he did,” said Paul, a crane operator. “Everyone loved him; he attracted everyone. He was a terrible banker though, but we finally got him on track.”
Paula Phillips described how her older brother was “always the life of the party, and never held a grudge.”
Descoteau worked in Dodd’s Lumber yard at age 14, and later founded Descoteau Fabricating in Duncan.
He’d also worked for local West Coast Prefabricating, and Imperial Welding.
Paula echoed Paul’s relief their tight family had a last dinner with Descoteau on Tuesday night before he headed on his fateful drive back to work at a camp near Castlegar.
“I was able to say ‘Goodbye’ to him Wednesday, the day it happened,” he said.
B.C. Coroners Service identified Descoteau as the only occupant of a northbound 2002 Ford F-250 flat-deck pickup truck that drifted to the Coquihalla Highway’s left shoulder.
It skidded across two lanes, jumped a concrete barrier, left the highway, and rolled several times down a steep embankment about four kilometres south of the Inks Lake exit at 11 p.m.
RCMP said Descoteau was not wearing a seatbelt when ejected from the truck. He was reported deceased at the scene.
But it was good times and tributes Paul and Paula prefer to remember.
“Dustin was always first to call me at 6 a.m. on my birthday,” Paula said. “He stayed close to his family.”
So close, he picnicked recently with his kids, who still live locally.
“I’d never seen him so happy since his kids were born. He loved his kids more than anything.”
But Dustin also had a romance with engines, cars and guitars, added Paul.
“One of his dreams was (racing) stock cars,” he said of Descoteau, a guitar picker at parties and family functions.
“He loved Chilliwack, Guns N’ Roses, The Band, and Jimi Hendrix.”
But in recent years his son came to adore living in the raw Chilcotin region after Paul and his son visited the Logan Lake area.
Descoteau stayed. He lived in a ranch cabin, rode horses, and met girlfriend Leslie Raven.
“His neighbours put Dustin on a horse, and that’s where it started,” Paul said of his son, nicknamed Cowboy.
His Kamloops band friends will hold a sacred ghost ride for Descoteau around Thanksgiving.
Castlegar workmates shut their operations last week in Dustin’s honour. They’re also wearing ‘Cowboy’ stickers on their hard hats, he said.
“Dustin was well liked and didn’t have many enemies, that’s for sure,” said Paul.
A trust fund for Descoteau’s children has been started at RBC.
A celebration of his life happens at 4 p.m. Oct. 4 at Maple Grove, 3800 Gibbins Road.