A southwestern Manitoba community is in mourning after a tornado touched down Friday evening, taking the lives of two teens.
Shayna Barnesky and Carter Tilbury, both 18 from Melita, Man., had been driving through the Rural Municipality of Pipestone, located approximately 16 kilometres south of Virden when the EF-2 tornado touched down.
RCMP believe the tornado picked up their vehicle and threw them from their car. Both teens were pronounced dead on scene.
Father Matt Koovisk, the priest at the Christ Anglican Church in Melita, said Sunday mass was a melancholy event.
“With the recent tragedy with the tornado just outside of Virden, things took a bit of a sombre turn this morning as we remembered those who died in our prayers,” he said.
Koovisk said when one person grieves in the town, the whole community grieves with them.
Friends of the victims told CTV News that the two teens would be missed.
The two had been dating for a year, both loved to play volleyball, and both had jobs in the town.
Bill Holden, the mayor of Melita, said everyone in town was devastated by the news. He noted that in a community the size of Melita, about 1,000 people, the loss of two young lives affects everyone.
“Tell the families we’re all thinking about them, our hearts go out to them, and our prayers are with them,” said Holden. “That goes for myself, and council and staff, and the whole community.”
Holden said Carter and Shayna were two of the nicest kids he’s ever met.
A memorial is being discussed to honour the lives of Carter and Shayna. Plans are still in the works to ensure physical distancing guidelines can be followed.
DAMAGE FROM THE STORM
A 54-year-old man from the Sioux Valley Dakota First Nation was also found in a damaged vehicle after the tornado. He was taken to hospital with serious but non-life-threatening injuries.
Shirley Rudneski, a friend of the owner whose property the tornado touched down on, said the farm is unrecognizable. The tornado ripped out close to 15 grain bins, crumpled the grain truck and completely removed the tree line.
“All you could see would be those grain bins along there,” she said. “You couldn’t see the house. You couldn’t see anything back in here because of the trees.”
Environment Canada said the tornado produced winds up 190 kilometres per hour and egg size hail.