Family, friends, and strangers gathered at Saint Patrick’s Basilica Thursday to honour Alex Zolpis almost a week after his horrific death.
Thursday afternoon’s mass led by Rev. Lawrence McCormick was packed with at least 500 people.
Zolpis was cremated. His ashes, in a rectangular box, were on a small table beside a framed photo.
“He was a great person. So hardworking,” said a teary-eyed friend who didn’t give her name. She met Zolpis at Dalhousie University, where they majored in business management.
Zolpis, 24, left behind longtime girlfriend Emma Roberts.
His parents, Dr. Edward Zolpis, an Ottawa psychiatrist, mom Susan Morgan and sister Meaghan sat in the front row.
All have maintained a low profile.
Zolpis, who grew up in Ottawa, fell out of a rented Dodge Ram pickup truck in a Byward Market parking garage around 3 a.m. Christmas eve and became lodged underneath. Paramedics pronounced him dead at the scene.
Police said the man behind the wheel of the truck had been drinking. Zolpis’ best friend John (Jack) Tobin — the son of former Newfoundland premier Brian Tobin — faces three charges in connection with his death.
“I’m friends with both of them and no offense, but no one wants to talk to the media because it’s so hard,” the friend said.
But childhood friend Remi Cossette, 23, was vocal, calling Zolpis’ death “a sad story.”
“It’s an accident but it could’ve been avoided,” he said. “In Gatineau, they have a program where they give you tickets, you know, 10 bucks, five bucks so you can take a taxi, and it’s free. So they should take this here in Ottawa,” he said.
The Tobin family wasn’t spotted at the church.
Tobin is slated to appear in court Jan. 27.