The flag was at half-mast outside Greenfield Elementary in New Waterford, Nova Scotia on Monday, inside crisis teams were helping students and staff deal with the loss of one of their teachers and co-workers.

Friends tell CTV news, Robbie Chiasson was the man killed while riding his all-terrain vehicle early Sunday morning.

Police say they received a 911 call at 4 a.m. to an area of James Street.

Chiasson was pronounced dead at the scene.

“We lost a member of our family,” says Cathy Viva, regional education director for the Cape Breton Victoria Regional Centre for Education. “The students arrived today to find out they’ve lost someone that’s been very important in their school life and staff members are greatly affected by the loss.”

Mary O’Quinn says Chiasson just celebrated his 49th birthday.

Her two sons grew up with Chiasson. They called her to tell her the tragic news.

“I went to church. I cried all during church,” she says. “I told the priest about his death. I cried all day. We had a horrible day yesterday. We are mourning his loss.”

Cape Breton Regional Police still aren’t saying what caused the crash, but it’s under investigation.

In New Waterford, people are still trying to come to grips with the unexpected loss.

“It’s a big, big loss,” adds O’Quinn. “He was a wonderful gym teacher. The kids loved him as a Phys Ed teacher. It’s a tragic loss also.”

Cathy Viva says Chiasson has taught at the school for more than 15 years, and also worked at a school in Donkin.

“Replacing someone who has been at the school that long is very difficult.”

Viva says counsellors will be at both schools as long as they’re needed.

Meanwhile, friends say Chiasson leaves behind a wife, and three young children.

With files from CTV Atlantic’s Kyle Moore.