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Mother and daughter killed in highway accident

Birthday plans end in devastation for family, friends


Melody Newell was looking forward to celebrating her daughter’s eighth birthday.

She had driven to Squamish and collected her nine-year-old niece, Cerce Spink, and seven-year-old nephew, Blaise Spink, and the three of them and birthday girl Samone were driving back to Vancouver Saturday evening in preparation for a sleep over and the party the next day.

Samone had turned eight on Dec 8th.

But just after 8 p.m. disaster struck. For some reason Newell’s Infinity car swerved into the northbound lane just south of Squamish and a northbound Nissan Pathfinder T-boned Newell’s car on the front passenger side.

Samone was killed instantly. Newell was airlifted to Vancouver but died shortly after.

Cerce is still in Vancouver Children’s Hospital with severe head trauma. Blaise was treated at the scene and released to relatives.

The 66-year-old driver of the Pathfinder was traumatized but uninjured.

"They both loved each other and they loved the people in their lives and Melody was very much loved and respected," said Newell’s common-law husband Kelly Carter.

"What Mel wanted more than anything else in the world was for people to be happy, she wanted to be happy her self. She loved to travel with me. She loved her child immensely."

With a wavering voice Carter recalled a day three-a-half-years ago when Newell proposed to him after the band he was playing in finished a set at a large Dragon Boat festival function.

"Melody came on stage got down on one knee, pulled out a ring and said, ‘I would just like to know if you would like to marry me.’

"And I waited and I waited and I waited too long. By law we are husband and wife and today (Wednesday) I will be buying her a ring to put on her finger to take with her."

Carter said Samone was a vivacious child who loved to sing, run, and do art.

"She was very intelligent, full of life, very vibrant, and super happy," he said, adding that her natural father Steve Gray, who had joint custody, is devastated.

"Everybody that looked at her said she was an old soul because she had so much insight and perception. She was still a kid but sometimes even I had trouble remembering she was a kid because she was so grown up all the time.

"She had a wonderful supporting case of people who loved her. Her mom and her dad and me."

Samone’s love of art is visible all over the office of Carter and Newell’s work colleagues.

"Samone was in our office a couple of days a week," said a tearful Marsha Hiemstra of Stripper Entertainment. "Everybody’s got pictures on their desks that she drew for us. She was bilingual. She was such an artist that we all knew she would go on to do great things with her artwork. She was a real character."

Hiemstra said Melody, who was hoping to put exotic dancing behind her for a career in fashion costume design, was a devoted mother and was loved by all her knew her.

"Nobody within the industry could ever find one harsh world to say about her," said Hiemstra, who will always remember Melody’s infectious giggle.

Squamish RCMP Cpl. Dave Ritchie said neither speed nor alcohol were factors in the accident. The road was clear of debris but the conditions were slippery as temperatures hovered around zero.

"It is that phenomena where you get changing conditions just by the wind blowing," said Ritchie. "The members noticed it. When they got there it got icier then as they stood there, then it warmed up and it got wet again. So we know there was some slipperiness in the area, but we don’t know if that contributed to it or not."

There was also a dog in the car.

The accident was particularly difficult for emergency personnel, said Ritchie, since it involved the death and injury of kids at a time of year, which celebrates them.

Police were only able to identify the child victims after finding Newell’s cell phone at the scene and calling the last number dialled.

"We were there for hours just trying to find someone who knew them," he said. "It really affects everybody when children are involved."

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