“I’m still in shock,” said Bayram Yesiloglu Saturday from behind the bar in restaurant Mevlana in Kaatsheuvel. Here he worked for a year, often six or seven days a week, together with 21-year-old Erdem. He died on Thursday night in the Turkish city of Aksaray in a car accident. “I saw him more often than my own wife,” Bayram said.

    Written by

    Carlijn Kosters

    “The way, that it’s so unexpected and there are still so many question marks. It’s all so sad,” Yesiloglu says, heartbroken. He is sad and tired. “I have looked at how that pole could have fallen on the car. But at the same time, I know that those answers don’t make it any less sad.”

    The loss is great for Erdem’s environment. “He was a very sweet boy. A real joker,” says his colleague. “A friend of everyone, who was not averse to hard work. He had no enemies and was very ambitious. You notice that now, when you see how sad everyone is.”

    “We have a really hard time with it.”

    After the bad news reached the restaurant on Friday, Erdem’s colleagues decided to go home a little earlier. “It was a struggle to get through the day, we’re having a really hard time with it. How it could have happened and what happened is still a big question mark for us,” said Yesiloglu. “Only the boy who sat next to it, Ismail, knows. But we don’t know if he’s still alive at all.”

    “The boys were very close together.”

    Ismail was Erdem’s best friend. “They were very close together and he came here often,” the colleague says. But it is not yet known how he is doing now. “If he’s still alive, I think he’s in a coma. In any case, there is no way we can reach his phone. If Ismail ever wakes up, I think he’s going to have a really hard time with this. He was of course behind the wheel, so he must feel responsible.”

    On Saturday afternoon, Erdem will be buried in Turkey. “Unfortunately I can’t be there in time, because I can’t go to Turkey until next week,” says Yesiloglu. “But I really can’t think of anything else. He was due to return to work here on August 15, after his vacation. I think that’s when the real blow comes, because then I feel that he really isn’t coming back.”

    The Süleymaniye mosque in Tilburg also reacted with great dejection. Erdem regularly passed by, just like his parents, says Mazhar Yozgat. “He was a very sweet boy. When his parents are back we will visit them to offer their condolences.”

    The car crashed into a concrete pole.
    The car crashed into a concrete pole.

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