BIRD COVE Residents are still in shock over the loss of the Father Biju Antony, who served at Our Lady of Grace Roman Catholic Church in Bird Cove, on the Northern Peninsula.
Antony, 39, was heading south on Route 430, reportedly to Corner Brook, on Wednesday with a travelling companion, Justin Devis, 28, of St. Anthony, who worked for Labrador-Grenfell Health.
Police say their vehicle most likely slid on the slippery road and struck an oncoming Department of Highways snowplow, killing them both.
Both men were natives of India and police say Devis was heading to Corner Brook to sign some documents to help bring his new wife to Canada. Devis and his wife were married about a month ago.
The RCMP said Antony might have been heading to Corner Brook for a doctor’s appointment.
Bird Cove’s postmaster Wanda Pittman said Antony would come into the post office every day to check his mail and have a chat.
“He was excited to have someone to drive down to Corner Brook with,” said Pittman. “He found it a long drive, he said he found it tiresome and he was really looking forward to having someone to drive down there with.”
Pittman called Antony “a lovely man” who was proud of his family.
“He’d come in and I’d tell him that the mail is not here yet, so he’d stay and have coffee with me,” she said. “He’d tell me stories of his country, he loved a good joke and, although he was shy, once you got to know him he’d share.”
Antony had been with the parish in Bird Cove since 2010. Parish council chair Irene Myers called him quiet, friendly and always willing to help.
“He was a shy person, but we got to know him very well, we had a lot of cups of tea with him,” said Myers. “He loved his work and he loved being here.”
Myers said Antony will be missed.
“Everybody knew him here, we’re all just heartbroken,” she said. “He was very much a family-oriented person. I know he loved his family back home (in India) and I think he loved us all here too.”
Being from South Asia, said Myers, Antony was a little lonely at first, but parish members did their best to make him feel welcome. She said they will have a funeral service for Antony in the coming days.
Unfortunately there isn’t much else known about Devis. The Curtis Memorial Hospital would only confirm he was an employee there but would not release any more information.
Police say they will continue their investigation, but they do not suspect any wrongdoing on the part of the snowplow operator, who was not injured in the accident.