Memories of Tanner Graf, 22, as a great father, brother, and friend are being shared after he was killed changing a tire on Highway 16, near Paynton.
Graf, who worked at a tire shop in Lloydminster, was called out early Friday evening to fix a tire for an abandoned motorist. Witnesses told the RCMP that while he was changing the tire, Graf was struck by a semi-truck. He died at the scene.
“It was devastating. I had called my daughter earlier on because I had seen something on Facebook about an accident,” Graf’s mother-in-law, Melissa White said.
“She had tried to call his cell phone and she couldn’t get a hold of him. Just a few hours later the police went to my daughter and told her that it was Tanner.”
White’s daughter, Katelyn Smiley, was Graf’s common-law partner and they shared a four-month-old daughter, Sadie.
“She is trying to stay strong for their baby but she is just absolutely devastated. She lost the love of her life and she will never have that back,” White said. “My daughter has two other children and he took those two other children in as his own. He is such a family man. He is so loved by each and every person that knew him.”
Tanner Graf, his common-law partner Katelyn Smiley, and their daughter Sadie. Photo from gofundme page.
Tanner was the type of dad that would make time on his lunch breaks to go home and see his daughter, according to White.
“There are so many videos of him dancing with Sadie and just being silly. He was so dedicated to that little girl,” she said. “He was such an amazing person, a spouse, a dad, a brother, a son, a grandson, a friend to everyone who knew him. It’s a tragic, tragic loss.”
White, who is currently in Nova Scotia, will be travelling to Saskatchewan on Monday. She has started a GoFundMe fundraiser online to help her daughter, who has been left a single mother.
“I wanted Katelyn to have a little bit of peace of mind, knowing that there is people out there that care and that will help her. She is so concerned now that she is a single parent,” White said.
“She just needs that reassurance that there is help and it is there for her right now and if she or the baby need anything that money is there. Everybody has been so generous.”
By Monday morning, the page had raised $5,180 of its $6,000 goal.
On the page, people are sending condolences and remembering the caring person Graf was.
“Our hearts ache for you both. We remember Tanner as a caring friend to many,” a post by Sarah and Brandon Casselman said.
“Working with Tanner is one of the best experiences. Tanner truly is a hero. I know how hard he worked to put a roof over his girls’ heads and warm meals in their bellies,” a post by Riley Conlon said. “Tanner would work his shift then go out on-call in the middle of the night .. for his special girls then show up the morning after to do it all over again. Tanner was an older brother to me and is a great man.”
White said they are arranging the funeral for this week and hope to hold a fundraiser in Lloydminster on Friday.
Follow on Twitter: @KellyGerMalone