‘She was a shining example’: Magrath, Alta. family mourns loss of 17-year-old daughter, possibly to COVID-19

LETHBRIDGE — Magrath, Alta. school teacher Ron Strate describes his daughter Sarah as a healthy 17-year-old girl, who played soccer, danced and sang with the Raymond show choir.

“She was going to be nominated to be one of the youth of the year in our community,” said the heartbroken father, adding, “She’s just that good of a kid, and she’s gone.”

According to Strate, who lives in the community of approximately 2,000 people two hours south of Calgary, his oldest daughter, who is 20, previously tested positive for COVID-19. So Strate, his wife Kristine, who is a nurse, and the two daughters living at home (Sarah and 13-year-old Bree) went to get tested.

“None of us tested positive, but my daughter Sarah got sick.”

Strate said it started about five days ago with a sore throat, but symptoms got progressively worse.

Sarah had been isolating downstairs, and the family kept checking on her.

CONDITION SUDDENLY WORSENED

They had booked an appointment to have Sarah retested on Wednesday, but Monday her condition suddenly worsened. The parents called 911 but Sarah died after arriving at the hospital

“From the time we called the ambulance, she went down in about 10 minutes,” said Strate.

“From talking to us to being on the ground doing compressions.”

The medical examiner’s office has not yet confirmed cause of death, pending tests on her lungs, but Strate said he’s 100 per cent convinced Sarah died of COVID-19.

“And all these people that think it’s a joke and don’t want to wear a mask and are having rallies and stuff. This was a healthy 17-year-old girl. There was absolutely nothing wrong with her.”

Strate said people need to stay home when they are sick.

“Just because you don’t live in Lethbridge, Edmonton or Calgary, we’re not immune to it,” he said.

SUDDEN DEVASTATING LOSS

Strate said he will get through the sudden and devastating loss through the support of his faith, his family and community.

“We’ve had such an outpouring of love already, and I know its going to continue for months.”

Strate said Sarah was in Grade 12 this year, but only had three classes left, and had already been awarded her diploma.

She was enrolled at Lethbridge College to take the massage therapy program.

“She had her life all planned out, and ready to go.”

Classmates and friends from both Magrath and Raymond have been dropping off flowers. The family said the schools had counsellors available to offer support for students and staff.

A gathering is planned next Tuesday evening at the Church of Jesus Christ of Latter-Day Saints in Magrath. There will be health restrictions in place that will limit the number of people who can attend at one time.

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