“Someone knows something.” Who killed Jason Pearson?
Police seek driver, family seeks closure after Jason Pearson’s death near Grand Bend during Not So Pro volleyball weekend
Originally from Regina, Saskatchewan, Jason Pearson of Waterloo was an avid volleyball player, and serious about taking part in Grand Bend’s Not So Pro tournament each year. After the first day of competition at this year’s event, Pearson was killed while walking back to his campsite at the Grand Bend Motorplex when a truck hit him at 5 a.m. July 26. The vehicle and its driver are still at large.
Days after what would have been Pearson’s 32nd birthday (November 29), Casey Lessard visited Waterloo to speak with his fiancée Erin Jobidon and their friend Drew Neath.
Erin: We hit it off right away. He just glowed. He drew everyone into him. He’d go out of his way to do whatever he could for you. He was always up for something new and was good at everything he did.
I came here to go to the University of Waterloo, and I met Jay at the Boa Nova, a Portuguese-style high-class restaurant. I was working there with Drew’s ex-girlfriend and Jason’s roommate. I was serving and bartending, and he was working there as well; he had a share in the restaurant.
I was getting a tour of the restaurant after getting hired, and he was working in the back. I think even then, there was a sparkle in his eye that caught my attention.
We did everything. Skied, kayaked, fished, played volleyball, traveled, you name it. He got into horses with me. Name a sport, he was probably into it and good at it.
Drew: The first time I ever heard about Jason was from my ex-girlfriend. He was looking for people to play volleyball with him, but I had to try out because he would only play with people who were good. We ended up playing together at the pickup courts at University of Waterloo. I still have a lot of close friends from elementary school, and Jay was one of my first friends outside of that group of friends, and I’ve gotten to know a lot of people through Jay.
Erin: We moved in together after a year of dating because we were at each other’s house every night anyway. We lived in a house for a year and a half after that. He made a point of bringing me everywhere. He was like that with his friends, too. He had five groups of friends that co-mingled.
We lived together almost two years. He was great to live with. We had talked about getting married, but we had a mutual agreement that nothing would happen until I finished school. We went away to Kicking Horse, where his brother has a condo, and he proposed without a ring, but our intentions were known to his family. Our long-term goal was to have a farm for our horses. This house was our first step toward that.
Drew: I remember him saying the weekend in Grand Bend, “Save up your money, because when we get married, we’re going to go away somewhere.”
Erin: We were going to go somewhere warm and have a wedding.
He traveled way more than me. I had never really gone anywhere before I met him, and he used to go to Europe every year. He lived there for a year and played football. His family’s out west, he went out east every year, he went to Europe every year. Just a busybody.
We had known each other three months and he asked me if I wanted to go on a cruise to Greece in November. I said sure, but thought it would never pan out. But November came and we planned a trip. We stayed in Paris for three days and he knew every corner. It was crazy. The Greek cruise cost him $80. He could get anything for a deal. Anything. He wouldn’t tell anyone how he did it. Tickets for plays and concerts. He had connections everywhere.
Drew: For example, we went to last year’s Stanley Cup finals. His brother got us tickets and we all went down.
He told me two days before the game and we just packed up and went down to Detroit for the night. I think we paid $230 US, and we were very close.
For the love of the game
Erin: His friends were his life. His friends and volleyball. I wasn’t allowed to play on his volleyball team. I wasn’t good enough.
Drew: Jay was always the team captain. If someone was playing badly, he was the one to get them going. He’d have everyone’s spirits as high as could be so they could play well. We followed the Not So Pro tour. Hang and Bang was our team name most of the time.
He always wanted to win. In Grand Bend, we played intermediate because the competitive teams were fours, and he wanted everybody to play, so we played the intermediate sixes. It was still really competitive, and this year we probably would have won if this hadn’t happened. The year before we got third and second in the two tournaments I played in.
The fateful weekend
Drew: I got to Grand Bend two hours late. Jay saw me and looked at my girlfriend. He was about to say something, but he said the look on her face was so bad that he couldn’t get mad.
(At the end of the day,) we sat in the beer tent for a bit, and there was a girl trying to learn how to jump serve, so we stayed a while teaching her how to do it. We went back to the campsite and started partying.
Erin: I got there later. I had to work the Saturday night and I got there at midnight. We went to Gables and were there until close.
Jay and I got into an argument hanging around the bar waiting to go back to the campsite at the Motorplex. One of the girls we were with hadn’t been drinking, so she was going to drive my car. There were four of us, and Jay was being stubborn as usual. He said he was going to walk and stormed off. There’s no arguing with him when he’s like that. And it’s not unusual for him – he walked everywhere.
In the morning, he still wasn’t back, which was kind of weird, but he’s slept in bushes before. I was just going to head home for the day, and I saw there was an emergency road closure. I went back and started getting a little worried. There was a rumour that a girl had been hit. I kind of brushed it off but I had a bad feeling. I drove into town because, with volleyball starting in half an hour, I knew he wouldn’t be late for that. He still didn’t show up, so I drove back to the roadblock and the officer wouldn’t say anything.
One of the girls went back to the campsite to see if he went back there. She ended up talking to the investigator, and she said it sounded like it was him.
She came back to the beach. I remember sitting with Drew’s girlfriend watching them play a game and I saw Sarah, the girl who went back to the campsite, walking with the police officer, and my heart sank. I just remember looking at both of them and no one would say anything to me. They just stared blankly. I knew. I fell.
Drew: I remember driving and saying to my girlfriend, if he’s not at the courts, something’s happened. As soon as I saw her, she said yeah, and I collapsed. I didn’t know what to do. I didn’t know what to say.
We just sat around waiting for the officers to do what they needed. We stuck around for interviews and headed home after that.
Erin: I waited in Grand Bend for my mom to come so I didn’t have to drive home. By the time I got home, everyone was calling. They all knew. It traveled so fast, and everyone was horrified. It seemed unreal and still does.
For me, one of my biggest fears was getting in a fight with someone and something happening. That’s how you ended it. That’s something I’ve always been terrified of. But it doesn’t bother me as much as I thought it would. A little fight is nothing. I know he still loved me.
The officers said they’re shocked nothing has come out yet. They interviewed hundreds of people. From what I know, they looked through the list of everyone registered at the Motorplex. They highlighted everyone who they think might have been leaving that evening. Their vehicle of interest is the truck with the trailer. But that could be from anywhere in Ontario or the States. We don’t know.
They did a reconstruction, and they think he was on the west side of the road walking back, and then may have been crossing the road. He was 100 meters from the Motorplex, and was hit at a low speed by a vehicle heading toward Grand Bend. It happened between 4 and 5 a.m. To their knowledge, they found him within 15 minutes. It was not very long.
I think about it and wonder why I torture myself. I hope it was someone who was driving and didn’t see him, and then freaked out.
Drew: They obviously didn’t stop. If they’d known, I’d hope they would have been nice enough to stop and get help, but from the sounds of it, they didn’t do anything.
Erin: I didn’t even know where to begin. I stayed with my mom for a week and then went to a friend’s house and stayed with her. We went out to Regina for the funeral and stayed with his family for a while. It was really important for me to be up there.
When I came back to reality, it was a huge slap in the face. We were living here, and I thought about moving out of this place, but I finally clued in that that’s not the way to deal with it. This is where there are memories and I want to hold on to that. Remember good things and try not to run away from thinking about it.
Drew: He was just a really good guy. The Monday after Jay died, a bunch of us gathered and everyone realized none of us had each other’s numbers because he was the one who got everyone together. He was that kind of person.
Erin: Our group of friends isn’t going to be the same. He always managed to get people together for something all the time.
It’s causing ripples in his family, for sure. His mom and sister are in horrible shape. His brother is super strong, and he’s held the family together while working full-time as a doctor.
For me, I do what I can to keep myself busy so I don’t have to think about it all the time. I’m not sure that’s a good thing. I work full-time and go to school full-time, and he’s on my mind every minute of every day. I can’t imagine moving on. I can’t imagine his clothes not being in the closet and his pictures not being on the wall. But I know that will happen one day.
For me, I didn’t think it would make a difference if we found someone. But I want to know what happened. He was always with people, and I just feel terrible that he was alone.
As Jason’s dad, Carl, says, “Someone knows something.” I can’t imagine being that person. I can’t imagine knowing something that horrible and not feeling the need to say anything.
In hopes of encouraging information that leads to the case being solved, Pearson’s parents posted a $25,000 reward, which was recently bumped to $35,000.
Any information is welcome; you can call Huron OPP at 1-888-310-1122 or CrimeStoppers at 1-800-222-TIPS.