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Driver killed in B.C. crash became long-haul trucker due to Hollywood strike

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Friends have identified the man killed in a fiery crash near Lytton, B.C., last week as a Teamster who worked in the province's TV and film industry before becoming a long-haul trucker during the Hollywood writers' strike.

Rick Neale was a 41-year-old husband and father of two who worked on a variety of TV series and movie productions across Metro Vancouver for the past eight years.

"The last show he did was Resident Alien, Season 3. He finished May 1, right before the strike," said Neale’s friend Aaron McClean.

When the strike began in the spring, shuttering productions across North America, Neale was forced to find other work.

"He was a provider for his family, he wasn’t going to let his family suffer. He would do whatever it took, and he took the trucking job," said Paul Smith, another friend of Neale’s.

On May 29, Neale worked his first shift as a long-haul trucker.

"He liked it and hated it at the same time, just because of how dangerous it was," said Neale’s friend Ryan Bieber.

"That was actually one of our last conversations was me telling him to quit his job, so he could go home to his kids," said McClean.

On Oct. 5, Neale was driving a dump truck when he was killed in a head-on collision on the Trans Canada Highway near Spences Bridge.

Neale left behind his wife, Monica, and their kids, seven-year-old Nathan and five-year-old Lexi. His tight group of friends who have known each other since childhood are devastated.

“He’s always been there. I’ve known him for a really long time. He was my best man, I was one of his best men at his wedding,” said Bieber. “He was an awesome guy. Good man, good husband, good dad.”

“He had a heart of gold. The biggest heart I have ever seen in a person. And he would do anything for you without question,” said Smith.

On Sunday, friends and family visited the crash site. Smith spray painted “RIP Slick Rick” on the road. “Slick Rick” was a nickname friends had given Neale when they were kids.

“He would always be the type to do something that the rest of us couldn’t. That’s why we called him Slick Rick,” said Smith. 

“He was one of those guys who you never thought you’re going to lose him, because nothing could take him out,” said friend Jordan Dunne.

“So this is one of those situations where we are all just coming to terms that how someone as strong-willed and strong physically be taken away this way. And it’s absolutely devastating for everyone involved that knows him. My heart is just absolutely breaking for his wife and kids.”

Family have started an online fundraiser to support Neale’s widow and children.

“If we can help in any way by bringing some financial help to the family, to look after her for the interim so we can all kind of get settled and see how we can move forward from such a tragic incident,” said Dunne.

“It doesn’t even make sense,” said Smith. “Most invincible person I have ever met, and he’s not here now.” 

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