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 a.m. 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.
“The situation is very traumatic,” said Mt. Currie Chief Leonard Andrew, who plans to hold an assembly next week to talk about the tragedies and how the community can work together to deal with alcohol abuse and other problems.
“It’s brutal,” Daniel Sailland, the Mt. Currie Band’s senior administrator, said Monday. “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 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 perhaps 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.”
Both Edmonds and Pascal leave behind young children and Edmonds was still in mourning for his mother who passed away last week.
Frank was known locally as a great athlete. She graduated from high school and was planning on going to college in the fall, said mom Tracey James.
“She was just an all around star,” said James in a heavy voice.
“She loved hockey, soccer, basketball. She had just got back from a hockey tournament on Sunday night and they had won. She scored the winning goal.”
James said Frank, Pascal and Edmonds were all good friends.
“We are all of us just numb,” she said.
The investigation into the accident continues.
– With files from Clare Ogilvie