A Calgary man bears the physical scars from an early July stabbing outside of a store filled with familiar faces and the subsequent surgeries to save his life.

On the morning of July 4, Dave Nickerson made the familiar drive to the Auto Value location on Hubalta Road Southeast, a store he had frequented for decades. A chance encounter with an oncoming pickup truck while entering the parking lot drastically changed the self-employed mechanic’s life.

Nickerson says he waited for the driver of the pickup, who had the right-of-way, to pull into the lot. After waving the truck through, the pickup remained stationary and Nickerson proceeded. The driver of the pickup parked close to Nickerson’s car and gestured at Nickerson to approach the truck.  

“Maybe he wants directions or who knows, so I started walking towards the front of his truck,” recounted Nickerson. “He got out of the truck, came right up to me and he said not one word. Nothing was discussed, there was no gestures, just walked straight up to me. I thought he was going to try and push me backwards.”

“I put my arm up to block him and that’s when he stabbed me. I didn’t realize he had stabbed me.”

Nickerson felt heat emerging from his chest and his hand was soon covered in blood. He made his way into the store for help.

“Once I got inside, I saw a good friend of mine, Donna, that works at the front till,” said Nickerson. “She seen me and I was like you got to call 9-1-1. You’ve got to get that guy’s licence plate number and get me an ambulance. I’ve been stabbed.”

“She didn’t believe it at first. She thought ‘yeah right buddy’. We’ve got a long 20 year history of joking and camaraderie and then she realized once I pulled my hand away and seen the blood.”

The stabbing victim was helped to the ground when the full severity of the situation struck him.

“Laying on the floor, I grabbed my phone and I gave it to someone and told them ‘You’ve gotta call my ex, my daughter’s mom, and I’ve got to tell her what to tell my daughter in case I don’t make it through this’.”

“That was the worst. Just having that thought that I may not see my kids.”

The father of two was transported by ambulance to the Foothills Medical Centre in serious, life threatening condition where the stab wound to his diaphragm, a piercing that narrowly missed his heart, and a buildup of fluid in one of his lungs were treated.

“I get out of breath just talking. It hurts my chest the more I talk,” said Nickerson from his home, nine days after the attack. “I can’t take deep breaths without a jolt of pain.”

The stabbing attack was captured by a nearby surveillance camera. Nickerson says he watched the footage once but couldn’t stomach a repeat viewing.

“It’s a soft subject when I think about the possible outcome. It really hurts. It makes me upset that some stupid person, out of his sorts, could just take me away from my family in an instant for no reason whatsoever.”

Nickerson says he plans to undergo counselling but he does not expect the events of July 4 to alter his friendly demeanor with strangers.

“I’m still going to be the same guy, I’ll just be a little more cautious about it and I’ll definitely be looking at people’s hands.”

Janice Scrivens, the owner/manager of the Auto Value Parts Store – Forest Lawn, says the store will host a fundraiser for Dave ‘Volkswagen Dave’ Nickerson on Saturday.

“His last experience at our store was life threatening and we don’t want to leave him with that taste in his mouth,” said Scrivens. “The next time he comes here he’s going to be surrounded by friends, family, staff and just people who care about him.”

A barbecue will be held in the parking lot from 11:00 a.m. until 4:00 p.m. on July 15 and 100 per cent of the proceeds will assist Nickerson.

“We’re getting his buddies together, our customers, and we’re going to have a fundraiser for him to help him through some tough times. He’s a self-employed, single dad so he’s not going to have any income for a little while.”

Nickerson says he’s touched by the gesture. “Friends are everything in life. I’m just a customer, realistically, but I’ve been a customer for over 20 years.”

In addition to the Auto Value fundraiser, Nickerson says his friends in the car community will be hosting fundraising barbecues in Edmonton and British Columbia to help him during his recovery.

In connection with the stabbing attack, 35-year-old Long Kim Ha faces several charges including aggravated assault and assault with a weapon. The accused also faces charges in connection with a hit-and-run involving a pedestrian that allegedly occurred the same morning as the stabbing.

Long Kim Ha is scheduled to appear in court on August 9.

With files from CTV’s Jordan Kanygin