‘It looks like a nightmare’: Friends and family mourn Ottawa man killed by storm


When Steve Hamre wanted to play a song on guitar but didn’t know the notes, he just had to call his friend Rob Hayami for help.

“I would call him and say ‘Hey Rob, listen to this song, what are the chords?'” the 50-year-old recalled. “He had an ear for music. He could play anything.”

He smiled as he said this, but in recent days Hamre has found that songs he hears on the radio are bitter reminders that his good friend is gone.

Friends of the 49-year-old Ottawa man say he was a victim of the deadly windstorm Derecho which hit Ontario and Quebec on May 21, leaving destruction in its wake and tens of thousands of people without electricity.

At least 10 other people died from injuries sustained that day, while another person was killed the next day by a falling tree branch.

Hayami enjoyed playing the guitar and had a great ear for music, according to his friend Steve Hamre. (Submitted by Steve Hamre)

Hayami loved hockey, music and golf, according to Hamre. He said his friend was at Cedarhill Golf and Country Club with his eight-year-old son, Owen, when the storm hit.

They saw dark clouds coming and were heading for the clubhouse when the roaring winds knocked a tree over their cart.

Hamre said he was told that Hayami had been pinned down. An obituary posted on the Tubman Funeral Homes website says he died Wednesday at The Ottawa Hospital’s Civic Campus, surrounded by his loved ones.

He is survived by his son, his wife Kristine McGillivray, his two brothers Geoff and Steven and his parents Hiroshi and Jane.

“It feels like a nightmare, it doesn’t feel real,” Hamre said. “But unfortunately we won’t be seeing Rob again.”

Ain’t here to lead songs anymore

Jack Pelletier shared a moving bereavement message on Facebook on Thursday, describing himself as Hayami’s “best friend”, before quickly adding that he is “far from his only ‘best’ friend”.

Humility, kindness and humor are just some of the words he used to describe him, adding that he and others had spent the past three days in a “constant flood of memories and tears”.

A group of friends had gone down to the hospital days before Hayami’s death, Pelletier said, just to be near him.

“A few of us sat in the parking lot with our guitars,” his post read. “I could feel Rob was there for a bit, but he wasn’t there physically to lead the songs anymore.”

Steve Hamre (left) and Rob Hayami (right) pose together in this undated photo. (Provided by Steve Hamre)

Hamre also lacks music.

“He was a great friend,” he said of Hayami. “One of the best guys you could ever know.”

He grew up with Hayami in Orleans and said his phone was flooded with people sharing stories and photos, bringing back moments he couldn’t even remember.

In each of them they stand side by side.

“He’s the kind of guy you walked around the room with and he’s always smiling with his arms open to everyone,” Hamre said.

“He left a lot of people behind.

Hamre said a great group of friends will always be there for Hayami’s family, honoring the many relationships he has built by ensuring those he loved most are taken care of.

Owen is already carrying on some of his father’s legacy by playing the piano, he added.

“Hopefully he gets the ear that Rob had for music.”