Family, club overwhelmed by community support
Tobin was playing the Grinch was only about 150 feet from their clubhouse on Adelaide Street, when it rounded a sharp turn off Pike’s Lane and, according to witnesses, he lost his balance and fell from the trailer. He died at the scene.
Striking just 14 days before Christmas, the tragedy shocked and saddened the community, and made headlines across the country.
With his mother, Sandra (Sandy) Murphy by his side, Devin said, “I loved my father.” Alluding to his father’s love for his son, Devin added, “and I know for a fact (although) he didn’t always show it that much, but I know for a fact (in some ways) he showed it a lot.”
Kevin Tobin’s 1,500 Suzuki Intruder bike was parked in a corner of the visitation room next to his casket where he was resting, attired in his Relic Riders’ vest.
“The first day I got on that motorcycle with him was the happiest day of my life” Devin recalled.
“Thank you all for being here and for remembering my father. I will make sure his bike, his family, everyone is taken care of,” he promised.
Relic Riders’ president Bruno Reichel also pledged the club’s support for the grieving family in the difficult days ahead.
Admitting he couldn’t even “pretend to know how you feel right now,” Reichel assured them, “we will help you get through this, and not just tomorrow or next week, but forever.”
Expressing his “deepest sympathy” to the Tobin family, he said, “this little club ... is not just like family, it is family. We fight like brothers; we love like brothers and sisters; and we hurt like brothers and sisters. And right now, we’re hurtin’ big time.”
Speaking directly to his fallen brother a few feet away, the club president said: “I know you’re going on the biggest road trip you’ve ever been on.” After a long, emotional pause, Reichel continued, “don’t worry about things back here brother, we got it covered. So ride Popeye (Tobin’s club nickname), we’ll catch up (with you) one of these days.”
Reichel said Tobin loved his club and probably participated in its events more than any other member.
“He had a heart of gold. He’d give you the shirt off his back, even if it meant having to do without one himself.”
It was a sentiment echoed by all of those who spoke with The Compass last week.
The club president noted Tobin’s last kind deed was to brighten the day for all the children who saw him in his role as the Grinch.
Tobin’s motorcycle brothers and family members all agreed if Kevin had any way of knowing Sunday, Dec. 11 would be the last day on earth, he would probably not have wanted to spend it in any other way than with the three greatest loves of his life.
His nephew, 20-year-old Justin Burden of Blackhead, told The Compass his uncle’s favourite things in life were, “family and friends, his bike and spending the whole day making kids happy. He went with a smile on his face.”
Justin’s mom, Margaret Burden (Kevin’s sister), who also lives in Blackhead, agreed with her son, adding, “he went doing what he loved.
Hard worker, hard player
“He was the hardest working man you ever seen in your life,” said Justin, who considered his uncle to be one of his buddies. “He worked hard, played hard and was dedicated to everything he did. We always had a good time whenever we were with him.”
Justin and his mom, along with her brother Cyril, sat around the boardroom table at the funeral home to share some of their thoughts about their late brother.
Cyril Tobin returned home from Cambridge, Ontario for his brother’s funeral.
“This is all over the news up there. I know when I go back, there’ll be ( fundraising) events going on to help out,” he said.
Cyril Tobin remembered his brother as someone who “liked to be the big, tough guy. He was always a big man, no question about it. He was as strong as an ox, but that tough exterior wore off as soon as you got to know him.”
He recalled his brother was “touched when we asked him to be the godfather of my son. As big as he tried to act, he had no problem shedding a tear. He played the tough guy role, but he was a big teddy bear. He always has been.”
Cyril said his brother “loved his family and thought the world of all his nephews and nieces.
“When I was younger,” Justin Burden added, “he treated me like a son.”
“No matter where they were or what they needed, he always looked out for his family,” Margaret added.
Remembering her brother as a “very kindhearted man,” she said, “he lived every day of his life to the fullest.”
Overwhelming community support
During Thursday’s funeral, St Patrick’s Roman Catholic Church was filled to capacity, with representatives of eight motorcycle and riding clubs from as far away as Gandar and Botwood.
“The response from around the province and across Canada is out of this world,” Margaret said.
Gord Ash, a member of the Relic Riders, said the outpouring of support and sadness went beyond the biking community.
Allowing people sometimes frown upon motorcycle clubs, Ash said, “we are amazed with the support, not only for the club, but also for the family.”
As for their fallen brother, Ash said, “Kevin was always community oriented, especially when it came to events the club sponsored or took part in outside the community. Kevin would be the first one to be on board. And if you needed a hand with anything, he was there 100 per cent. That’s just the type of guy he was. He was just a good guy. He will definitely be sadly missed by the club.”
Future parades not the same
The Relic Riders have been so shaken by the tragedy that they agree future Christmas parades will never be the same again. It’s too early to tell, but it could affect their future participation.
“As far as our club goes, I think it’s something we’ll have to sit down and talk about and reevaluate,” Ash said. “Being a community-based group, it probably is something we will do; but again it’s something the club will make a decision on and vote on whether we want to do that again. If we do, certainly it will be a memorial type float in honour of Kevin.”
Bruno Reichel said they realize, “it’s probably going to change the parade, but hopefully it won’t change it forever or anything like that, but it’s probably going to tighten up safety regulations and that type of thing.”
Ash agreed, adding, “seeing kids riding on floats, that’s probably going to change. But certainly we wouldn’t want to see it change the parade drastically.”
Ash concluded: “This was an accident that was not really wrapped around safety. As far as we understand, he (Kevin) lost his balance and fell off, but that’s as much as we know about that.”
An accident reconstruction specialist from the RCMP was at the scene and carried out a commercial vehicle inspection on the vehicle, and the Office of the Chief Medical Examiner conducted an autopsy on the victim to determine the cause of death. But the RCMP had not received the results of either of those reports late last week. • Place of birth — Labrador City, Oct. 17, 1970, grew up in Broad Cove on the north shore of Conception Bay • Age — 41 years • Occupation — welder, employed at Dawe’s Welding & Sons, Harbour Grace • Membership — an active member of Relic Riders Motorcycle Club; joined about six years ago • Family — married to Sandra (Sandy Murphy) of Carbonear, have one son, Devin; parents are Mike and Rose Ann Tobin, Broad Cove; brothers: Michael, Johnny, Cyril (Crystal); sisters: Tina Tobin, Margaret Burden (David Milley), Beverly Roberts and Regina Tobin (Alex Woldsendebet) • A tragic ending — died Sunday, Dec. 11, 2011
Members of the Relic Riders Motorcycle Club line up outside St. Patrick’s R.C. Church in Carbonear Dec. 15 to form an honour guard for their fallen brother, Kevin Tobin following his funeral mass.