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London cyclist killed in collision on his way to coffee date with friend

A cyclist who was struck and killed by a vehicle last week was on his way to get coffee, said the man’s longtime friend who was waiting for him at the store.

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A London cyclist who died after colliding with a vehicle last week was on his way to have a coffee when the accident happened, says the friend who was waiting for him at a cafe.

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It was shortly after 5 a.m. on June 19 when London police said they were called to a collision in the area of ​​Hamilton Road and Rectory Street, with 54-year-old Rafal Szabat identified as the dead person. Szabat, known to friends as “Polish,” was cycling to meet his 10-year-old friend Guy Robert for coffee, Robert said.

“In a way, I take responsibility because he was going to meet me,” Robert said. “We went for coffee together.

“If he could do anything for you, he would. He is a great loss to many people. I hope he is in heaven because that is where he deserves to be.”

Robert, 52, says he has felt terrible since hearing of Szabat’s death. They met more than a decade ago at the London Coffee House, a daytime social space for homeless Londoners, at 371 Hamilton Rd.

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Another friend, Rob Drecic, said Szabat was a “good guy with a big heart.”

“Every time I saw him I said hello, and he always said hello to me. He never hurt me,” Drecic said.

Szabat’s younger brother, Mario Szabat, 51, lives in British Columbia. He recalled dropping his children off at school when he received a call from London police about the fatal collision.

“It was horrible. He just went to a coffee shop he always went to, to have coffee with his friends,” he said. “That’s how he always started his day.

“His story wasn’t really a happy one. He could help anyone, but he would not accept any help for himself.”

The two brothers emigrated from Poland to Canada with their parents in the 1990s.

According to Mario, his brother had struggled with addiction for more than a decade, problems that began after a car accident in the early 2000s that left him in a coma for three weeks.

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“After the accident I just looked at his eyes and they were empty. Everything changed for him there,” he said.

Because of his addiction, Szabat lost contact with his family, including visitation rights to see his 11-year-old son, his brother said. “He really missed his son and talked about him all the time.”

Over the years, Szabat’s condition worsened, his brother said, especially after the COVID-19 death of their mother, who had been his biggest supporter.

“He took that (her death) very hard because the help he got from her disappeared,” Mario Szabat said.

Rafal Szabat lived at the American Plaza Motel, at 2031 Dundas St. in East London, his brother said. When he went there to pick up his things, he found a surprisingly well-organized personal space.

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“He maintained cleanliness and composure all the time. Even when he was at his lowest, he always tried,” Mario Szabat said.

He had nothing left in the apartment except a shirt and a pair of socks.

“My brother was torn between Poland and Canada. He missed Poland very much, but he loved Canada at the same time,” Mario Szabat said. “I don’t think he ever found a good place for himself. If he could actually find it, things might be completely different.

Police say the driver of the car remained at the scene and the investigation is ongoing. On Tuesday, a police spokesperson said there was no new information about the case.

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@BeaBaleeiro

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