By Cindy Filipenko
Mt. Currie has been dealt another devastating blow. Three young members of the community were killed when the car they were traveling in left the road and ended up submerged in the Birkenhead River at approximately 7 am on Monday, May 28.
Two women, Felisha Frank, 18, and Clarissa Pascal, 22, and a man, Lawrence Edmonds, 26, were pronounced dead at the scene of the accident 6.5 km from the Portage Road junction in Mt. Currie. All three youth were members of the Lil’wat Nation.
The Stl’atl’imx Police, Pemberton RCMP, Pemberton Fire and Search and Rescue were all dispatched to the scene, reported by a passerby who witnessed the incident.
“It’s brutal,” said Daniel Sailland, the Mt. Currie Band’s senior administrator. “We’re doing the best we can. We have all of our support workers out to ensure everyone gets critical debriefing.
“Right now the best we can do is to make sure everyone gets the support they need. The Chief (Leonard Andrew) is with the families right now.
“People out here are numb and in a state of disbelief. Less that six weeks ago we lost two lives, almost three.”
In April, two Mt. Currie youth were killed in another single MVA that occurred after a community-wide fishing derby. Like that accident, Monday’s MVA is believed to be directly related to excessive speed and alcohol.
Sailland believes that once people get through the initial shock and grief, there will be a period of reflection and questioning.
“At what point does it stop?” asked the band administrator. “How do we create significant change?
“We have counseling services, we have drug and alcohol programs, we’re working in the school and the community. What else is there for us to use? What other tools are available?”
In the small, tight knit community, the impact of the loss is being felt by everyone, but the day to day business, such as health care and daycare, have to continue.
“Kudos to essential services for keeping working. These people are putting on a brave face, when I’m sure they’d much rather be home with their families,” said Sailland.
While he would not speculate on what course of action the community may or may not take in the wake of these tragic deaths, Sailland said that at this time the community needs as much support as it can get, and that some resources would be coming from outside Mt. Currie to assist with the aftermath of the tragedy.
“Hopefully this is a wake-up call for the community,” said RCMP Cpl. Paul Vadik.
“In the Pemberton-Mt Currie area we have had eight vehicle-related deaths since January. That’s astounding. Most, but not all, were alcohol related. This is frustrating for the police and for the community.”
The investigation into the accident continues.