Last Updated: Friday - 09/24/2010
Week of February 11, 2008
Local youth escapes as van crashes through ice
Jonathan Quist’s two fellow students
drowned in Ontario
- File photo
By LASHA MORNINGSTAR
Tire tracks across the ice, fishing huts scattered around the lake edge – it all seemed like a safe bet to drive across from Barry’s Bay, Ontario that Feb.2 morning.
“But they didn’t realize the river water in the middle made the water deep and the ice thin,” said a shaken Paul Quist.
As the minivan crashed through the ice, Paul’s son Jonathan jumped from the front passenger seat, and pulled himself up out of the Kamaniskeg Lake water onto the ice. The driver, Greg Gassman, flung himself out of the van too, sinking neck deep before hauling himself onto the cracking ice.
The van sunk like a rock.
Crawled to safety
“Jonathan told Greg to stay low as ice cracked under them and they crawled to a safer spot.”
And the two young Our Lady Seat of Wisdom Academy students waited at the edge of the shattered ice, hoping against hope their two fellow students in the back seat would somehow escape.
Paul, the director for marriage and family life for the Archdiocese of Edmonton, recounts the story told to him by Jonathan by phone Monday just 10 minutes after Paul and his wife Carol had arrived home from a trip to Florida.
Desperate to get help, the icy-wet young men ran from cottage to cottage trying to find someone home. But this is a summer place, vacant come winter.
Finally they found one cottage open, but there was no power, no phone.
By this time Greg who had lost a shoe and was completely soaked, started to become hypothermic.
“So when they came to another cottage and could get in, Jonathan made a fire,” said Paul, “but there was no electricity.”
They stayed the night and dried out. Come Sunday morning they again ran from cottage to cottage until they finally found someone at home. The police were called.
Divers recovered the bodies of the two students, Janine Lieu of Vancouver and Paul Sanders from Dublin, Ontario, Monday.
A simple shopping trip turned into a tragedy.
Paul Sanders was an only child and planning to be a priest. Fellow students talked of his and Janine’s devotion to their faith.
“If anyone was ready to meet God and go to heaven it was these two,” said Paul, “but this in no way minimizes the sorrow and grief of their parents and loved ones.”
Still deeply shaken, Paul emoted, “You don’t know why. I’m relieved my son made it but we feel such grief for the parents. While you are relieved, you have survivor’s guilt.”
The Quists flew from Edmonton early Wednesday morning to be with Jonathan and the other families.
A requiem Mass will be held for the dead students Monday at St. Hedwig’s in Barry’s Bay.