The circumstances surrounding a brutal assault at a Manitoba bowling alley remain unclear, but what was never in question was the love Kirstie Straughan had for her once-husband Zack.
Prior to moving to Saskatoon in early 2016, Zack had lived in Prince Albert and attended Wesmor High School.
This is where he met his wife Kirstie, who was emotional when asked to discuss the attack that left Zack brain dead.
He was beaten over the head with a pool cue during an evening out that went horribly wrong.
“It was a senseless act that took away my first love and the father of my children,” she said.
During their time together the couple had three young children—London, 6, Damon, 4, and one-year-old Silas.
Kirstie was at home Sunday morning when she received a text message from Zack’s sister, urging her to call immediately.
“My first reaction was to text Zack, so I texted Zack and he never answered … I knew there was something wrong,” she said.
Zack’s sister told Kirstie he had been airlifted to hospital. Her first instinct was to take the children to Manitoba to see their father, but soon changed her mind.
“Once I found out how rough he was, how bad he was, I knew my kids couldn’t have their last memory of their dad being in that state,” she said.
Zack would die in hospital the following afternoon.
Kirstie said it was very hard telling her children their father would not be coming home.
“Daddy was in an accident and the doctors tried really, really hard to save Daddy and Daddy fought really hard to stay here for them but (the doctors) just couldn’t do it and God had to take Daddy up to heaven with him,” she said.
Kirstie and Zack were married May 23, 2015 and separated later that year.
Zack moved to Saskatoon and was living with his girlfriend, who is now two months pregnant.
Kirstie said despite the status of their relationship, Zack always had time for his children.
“The kids would always come back home to me and told me all the exciting stories. Daddy took them camping, daddy took them to the lake,” she said adding the children are still having trouble coming to terms with their father’s death and are asking questions.
Kirstie said Zack was also there for his friends. He was a passionate fisherman, skateboarder and loved watching hockey. His favourite team was the New Jersey Devils.
The man accused of the attack, Justin Leslie Bird, was initially charged with aggravated assault.
As of Wednesday morning, there was no word if Bird’s aggravated assault charge had been upgraded to murder.
Both men were working for Top Shot Concrete, a Saskatoon-based company, at the time of the incident.
The company declined a phone interview, but issued a statement:
“Our entire staff was shocked and devastated when we heard the news of this horrific event. Our thoughts and prayers go out for the families. They will need support during this time and we will be doing what we can to help. It is difficult to put into words the impact this has had on us. We are a small company and we all know each other and work closely together. Right now we are just dealing with the shock of this tragic news.”