A memorial for Squamish resident Trish Donohue and her seven-year-old son McCaul Sage, victims of a tragic car accident earlier this month near Lillooet, has been scheduled for Jan. 17.
Amidst whiteout conditions on the afternoon of Jan. 2, Donohue and her family were traveling on Highway 99 North about two kilometres north of Lillooet, when police said the SUV crossed the centre line and sideswiped another vehicle. The collision caused Donohue’s vehicle to careen over a steep embankment and plunge dozens of feet to the shores of the Fraser River below.
The driver, 46-year-old Rob Sage, managed to escape the vehicle with his two daughters, age 11 and four. They have since been released from hospital. Tragically, Sage’s wife and son were found unresponsive and later died at the scene.
The driver and passenger of the second vehicle, both from Lillooet, were not injured.
RCMP has said a sudden heavy snowfall could have been a contributing factor in the crash.
The fatal accident has led to an outpouring of support for the Sage family in both Squamish and Whistler, where the husband and wife were longtime residents. Michael Hutchison of the Bethel Lands Corporation, where Donohue worked as development property manager, has committed to finishing construction on a home the family was building in Squamish's Crumpit Woods development.
An account has also been set up by friends of the family at the Squamish Nesters location where shoppers can donate their points or add money to the account. Donations can also be made at the Whistler Nesters store.
“The outpouring of support and love from the Sea to Sky community is a testament to the life that Trish and Rob lived together,” wrote Donohue’s longtime friend Amy Cassidy in an email. “There have been countless kind gestures of support that have not gone unacknowledged and are keeping the whole family going at this time.”
Cassidy, who met Donohue in high school and spoke to her nearly every day since, took a moment to reflect on her longtime friend.
“She was by far the most hilarious and unscripted person that most would have the pleasure of knowing. She turned adversity into natural hilarity,” she wrote. “Trish was resourceful, committed, loyal and always available to those who needed her but never lost sight of her own family’s needs.”
The latest fatal accident has led to a public outcry for increased safety measures along the often-challenging roads in and around Lillooet. A petition to be delivered to B.C. Minister of Transportation Todd Stone calling for a safety reassessment and the possible installation of concrete barriers on Highway 99, Highway 12 and Road 40 has at press time received just under 1,500 signatures.
“I hope it has some impact,” said Lillooet resident Deanne Zeidler, who started the petition. “I think that allowing for some driver fallibility needs to be considered on these roads, where, if you miss, it can be a terrible tragedy.”
Seven-year-old Riley Donohue also wrote an emotional plea to Minister Stone that has been making the rounds on social media after the loss of her cousin, McCaul. The letter can be viewed above.
Next Saturday’s memorial is set for 5 p.m. at the West Coast Railway Heritage Park in Squamish. All are welcome. The family is asking that donations be made to the Lillooet and District Search and Rescue Society in lieu of flowers.