Melita mourning teen tornado victims

Shayna Barnesky and Carter Tilbury, both 18, were killed by a tornado Friday night

August 10, 2020, 9:16 am

Shayna Barnesky and Carter Tilbury, both 18 from Melita, were killed by a tornado Friday night

People in Melita are 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 about 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.

'Two amazing kids'

"They were two amazing kids," Rev. Matt Koovisk, the priest at Christ Anglican Church in Melita, said in an interview with the World-Spectator.

He said there was a lot of sadness at the Sunday worship service.

"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. "It was a cloudy day Sunday, not just in terms of the weather but also there was a sombreness in the air, a heavy feeling in the air. I think the whole community is grieving this loss.

"Whether you knew them well or didn't know them at all, one of the things I've noticed about Melita is its ability to grieve together. When one person grieves in Melita, the whole community grieves with them.

"If you didn't know the person, you know somebody who knows the person. The whole community is really grieving right now. Shayna worked at the Co-op, and a lot of people would have had a lot of interaction with her.

What message does he have for people who are grieving?

"It's not the natural order of things for us to be burying teenagers," said Rev. Koovisk. "What we're going through is not part of the natural order. To grieve in community, to gather with others as best you can in a time of pandemic to remember Shayna and Carter is important. To share the memories of these two teenagers, and also to remember to hold yourself gently in these times. To know that these feelings of sadness, of loss, are natural, and to know that other people are grieving alongside you is important."

'He was like any other love-struck 18-year-old. It was his toys and Shayna'

Brayden Lesy is the branch manager of Enns Brothers John Deere dealership in Melita, where Carter worked.

"Most people in a workplace have some characteristic that irks one or two of their co-workers and causes a little bit of friction. Carter was one of those guys who didn't seem to have one of those characteristics," Lesy told the World-Spectator in an interview.

"He was your typical 18-year-old kid. He loved his truck and loved his toys. He loved anything that went. He rode dirt bikes and snowmobiles, your typical rural 18-year-old kid. He and Shayna were high school sweethearts. He was like any other love-struck 18-year-old. It was his toys and Shayna.

"He was a very social kid, very well-liked. He was very active in sports - hockey, golf, but volleyball was his main passion.

He said his staff is feeling the loss.

"It can't help but affect everyone. It's always tough to lose a young kid who was showing so much promise. These kids are going to miss out on a lot of life, so it's tough. In the community it's a void that will never be filled."

The two 18-year-olds had been dating for a year, both loved to play volleyball, and both had jobs in the town.

Memorial planned
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.

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.

Environment Canada said the tornado produced winds up 190 kilometres per hour and egg size hail.