Rick Neale, an indefatigable husband and father of two, was cherished within his professional circle as a staunch Teamster. A veteran in the film and movie production scene in Metro Vancouver, his creative prowess had been pouring over celluloids for a span of eight transformative years. His last artistic contribution was to Resident Alien’s third season which he wrapped up on May 1, just on the eve of the impending strike.
The strike, conducted by Hollywood writers, drew a curtain over production projects in Metro Vancouver. Rick, then 41, was compelled to seek alternative livelihood options.
Rick’s instinct to nurture his family overrode any personal predilections. According to his friend, Paul Smith, Rick stepped up to new responsibilities with unblinking courage. He diverted his well-ingrained dedication to the film industry towards a rather challenging path – long-haul trucking.
His maiden shift as a trucker came on May 29. His friend Ryan Bieber spoke of Rick’s duality of sentiments. The adventure appealed to his spirit, even as the perilous nature of the job unnerved him.
Rick’s tragic passing on October 5 shook the core of his closest friends. Employed as a dump truck driver, he met with a fatal head-on collision on the Trans Canada Highway proximal to Spences Bridge. The tragic incident left his friends and family grappling with a seismic void. Among the ones grieving were his wife Monica, their seven-year-old prodigy Nathan, and their five-year-old gem, Lexi.
Rick’s bond with his close-knit circle of childhood friends was deep and longstanding. Ryan Bieber reflected on the enduring friendship, recalling Rick’s irreplaceable presence at his wedding. Rick, he said, had an unimpeachable character – a man committed to his family and friends.
Paul Smith, too, cherished Rick’s golden heart and readiness to extend a helping hand without a second thought. On Sunday, friends and family made a round of the crash site, marking their presence and their grief. In a moving tribute, Smith spray painted “RIP Slick Rick” – a nickname from their childhood – on the road.
Smith fondly recollected Rick’s audacity to undertake challenges that daunted them all, a trait that earned him his nickname. Jordan Dunne, another friend, expressed disbelief at the untimely passing of their invincible friend. He felt a crushing despair for Rick’s wife and children left behind.
The news catapulted the friends into action; they organized an online fundraiser to provide financial support for Rick’s bereaved wife and children. “In the wake of such a cataclysmic incident, it’s important for us to rally around the family and provide potential means to see through such trying times,” Dunne asserted.
The tragic and unexpected loss of Rick Neale, a man deemed invincible by his friends, has left many questioning the precarious nature of life itself. As they grapple to fill the void left by Rick, the memory of “Slick Rick” lives on in the hearts of his friends, casting an enduring shadow over their collective past. His tragic passing is a solemn reminder of the fragility of life amidst its unpredictability, stirring profound reflections within his circle of friends and a larger community touched by his life.