Squamish resident Joy Pringle is remembering her younger sister Bekah Mann as an "artistic, creative, beautiful person who was loving and kind, and a hard worker."
Mann, who had a penchant for wearing colourful clothing and listening to old-school music, "was absolutely gorgeous inside and out," Pringle told Pique through her tears. "She was ... wise beyond her years. She always gave really good advice."
Mann, 23, died in a multi-vehicle accident just before noon on Sunday, Dec. 2, when her black Subaru crossed the centre line and collided with two southbound vehicles while heading north on the Sea to Sky Highway. Mann was on her way to work at Whistler Olympic Park from her home in Squamish, where she lived with her older sister.
The collision occurred near Chance Creek Forest Service Road, according to an RCMP news release. "The driver of the Subaru was deceased at the scene and the occupants in the other vehicles received minor, non-life-threatening injuries," read the release. "Road and weather conditions at the time were reported as 'good.'"
The highway was closed for approximately 10 hours after the accident, though motorists were able to trickle through as single-lane alternating traffic for most of the day. Calls to the RCMP on Tuesday, Dec. 4 confirmed that the investigation into the crash is still ongoing. No additional information was available as of press time.
Pringle was snowboarding at the time of the incident. "My boyfriend works with her at Whistler Olympic Park and he called me and said 'Bekah's late for work, she's not answering her phone and there's been a bad accident,'" she recalled.
After calling hospitals and police to no avail, Pringle turned to the Sea to Sky Road Conditions Facebook group to ask if anyone driving past the accident could identify whether her sister's car was involved. Someone sent her a photo of the scene. Pringle immediately recognized a jacket she had given Mann in the mangled car.
"At that point I knew it was pretty bad," she said.
Mann moved in with her sister in Squamish this summer. It was her first time moving out from under their parents' roof in the Lower Mainland.
"We joked around about it being her soft launch," Pringle said. "She had a vision board lined up and was gluing things to it. She had goals and places she wanted to go. She wanted to travel the world and made plans to go to Indonesia next year; she was talking about going to Haiti with me and Australia."
Life in the Sea to Sky corridor also afforded Mann access to a variety of new adventures, from whitewater kayaking and hiking to the top of Shannon Falls for the first time, to learning how to fly fish the week before the accident.
This year, she wanted to learn how to rock climb and improve her snowboarding skills, Pringle said.
"I feel like she did get to have a lot of really cool experiences and meet a lot of new people and new friends. But she really was cut too soon," she said.
In between exploring, working, and planning for her future adventures, Mann was also a doting aunt to her five nieces and nephews.
Some of their favourite things to do with their auntie were going for walks in Squamish, having sleepovers and doing artwork with them, they added over speakerphone.
On top of the enormous grief of dealing with Mann's passing, Pringle has also had to deal with an anonymous harasser sending bizarre, inappropriate texts and asking for Mann's number in the days following her sister's death. Pringle has contacted police about the texts and phone calls.
The community's support has been "pretty overwhelming but pretty amazing," Pringle said.
A GoFundMe page (www.gofundme.com/bekah-manns-memorial) has been launched to help Mann's family fulfil her final wish, to be buried in a bio urn that will ultimately grow into a tall tree. "Unfortunately this wish cannot be fulfilled without support as Bekah's passing is not only a huge emotional burden on her family, but also a huge financial burden," read the fundraiser's description. "Any and all donations will be going to the funeral and to making sure Bekah's final wish comes true."
As of press time, more than $17,500 of the page's $25,000 goal had been raised.