Tuesday, July 23, 2002

Police plead for witnesses to killing

By Jennifer O’Brien, Free Press Reporter

     Police were searching yesterday for witnesses to an attack outside a bar that killed a London man.

     Ryan Vlaad, 26, died after he was punched and knocked to the ground about 2:30 a.m. Saturday. Police described Vlaad’s attacker as a large, stocky man.

     Vlaad was struck as about 100 people milled about the parking lot of the Roxbury Pub and Grill at 1165 Oxford St. E. Several fights had broken out.

      “We need the public to come forward with information,” said Const. Ryan Holland, a London police spokesperson.

      “Or we need (the suspect) to come to us.”

      Police believe Vlaad was an innocent bystander who did nothing to provoke the attack, Holland said.

     “That’s what our information has suggested at this time,” he said. “He just happened to be there . . . in the wrong place at the wrong time.”

     But he said police would be willing to listen if the suspect comes forward with a different version of events.

     Meanwhile yesterday, friends and former co-workers of Vlaad said they were in shock over the death of the aspiring commercial pilot.

      “Everybody is pretty solemn about it,” said Richard Moon of the Aero Academy, where Vlaad was training.

     “We are going to miss him, that’s for sure.”

     Before attending Aero, Vlaad worked at Sundance Balloons, where he made a lasting impression, said owner Barry McGonigle.

     “This is overbearing, we are all in shock here,” said McGonigle.

     “He could outwork anybody and always with a huge smile and huge heart.”

      Vlaad was an outdoor extremist who loved the outdoors, and was passionate about rock climbing and rappelling.

     “He used to bug me all the time to let him rappel from a hot air balloon at the air show,” he said. “He was a really good guy.”

      Vlaad’s funeral will be held in Espanola at the Good Shepherd Roman Catholic Church at 11 a.m. Friday. Visitation is Thursday from 2-4 p.m. and 7-9 p.m.

     Memorial tributes may be made to the Joan Gervais Fund or the London Health Sciences Foundation for transplants.

Author: Ian

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