|Jeff Draper died after his ATV collided with a lawn mower early Sunday. Facebook photo
OTTAWA - They were almost his in-laws. And even they loved Jeff Draper.
"He was probably the smartest, strongest, wittiest, most talented individual that you'd meet," said Su Moffat, the aunt of his 25-year-old fiancee Haleigh McClenaghan.
Draper, 28, an environmental engineer, had so impressed McClenaghan that she took him to a South American island on a family trip 2 1/2 years ago, not long after they'd started dating.
"Nothing really fazed him," Moffat said. "He was very strong in himself."
Draper died of severe head injuries sustained when his ATV and a riding lawnmower collided in the aftermath of a bachelor party at his Kinburn home early Sunday morning.
Moffat was one of dozens who kept a hospital vigil with Draper's parents as he fought for his life.
"Nothing's going to be this difficult, ever," she told Draper's mother, Marion.
Moffat knows. She lost her own son to a brain tumour.
Draper's parents are handling their grief "stoically," she said.
And even in death, he saved the lives of five people.
"They took his pancreas, both kidneys, his heart and liver," said lifelong friend Eric Burton. "That's a real comfort to the family."
Draper survived until Monday, surrounded by those closest to him.
"The ICU nurse told Marion that in her 30 years, she'd never seen such an
outpouring of support," Burton said. "So many young men crying and hugging."
He and Draper took part in a yearly tradition called the Kak Cup -- a golf and fishing tournament started by 32 Arnprior friends in 1999 while they were all still in high school.
Draper had won it earlier this month.
And nearly all of those friends were with him for the end.
"One flew in from the north," said Burton. "I came hoping that he'd bounce back and I'd be out of there in 45 minutes."
McClenaghan remained inconsolable Tuesday. "Ripped apart," her aunt says.
Their Weimar dog Ferguson, whom they got at a Quebec shelter, was also killed that morning.
"(He) was like their baby," Moffat said. "She couldn't be any sadder."
Brian Miller, 26, of Pakenham is charged with impaired driving and driving with a blood-alcohol level exceeding 80 mg. He was released and will appear in court Aug. 25.
Draper's funeral will take place Friday at 11 a.m. at the Emmanuel Anglican Church in Arnprior. Visitations will be held at the Boyce Funeral Home on Wednesday and Thursday.
The family is requesting donations in Draper's name to the Arnprior Fish and Game club or to the Arnprior Memorial Hospital.