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Community grieves the tragic loss of two youth

Highway 16 collision claims lives of two local high school students

Two well loved young people, local 17 year olds, Emily Eggleton and Clayton Neufeld were fatally injured on Wednesday August 9, at approximately 5:46 p.m. in a collision on Highway 16, near Guest Road 40 km east of Vanderhoof.

Both promising NVSS students; Emily a 2017 grad enrolled at CNC to study nursing in the fall, Clayton a grade 11 student promoted to grade 12 and due to graduate next year. The two took a day trip together walking trails among 800 - 2,000 year old cedars in the Ancient Forest between Prince George and McBride.

They were on their way back, travelling west when the Chev Cavalier lost control, crossed the center line and struck a loaded logging truck behind the driver’s side fuel tank.

The impact of the collision was instantly fatal. The driver of the logging truck was treated for non-life threatening injuries and later released from hospital.

“Vanderhoof not only aches for the Eggleton and Neufeld families and the incredible loss that they are experiencing, but this is also a difficult time in our community as youth, especially local students like these two young people, are our hope and our future,” says Vanderhoof Mayor Gerry Thiessen.

As the family prepare for a joint service for Emily and Clayton taking place in the Vanderhoof Arena on Wednesday August 16 at 12:00 noon, the BC Coroner continues investigation into the reason(s) for the loss of control of the vehicle.

The identity of the victims has actually not yet been officially released by police nor confirmed by the BC Coroner and won’t be for quite some time as privacy protocol has been recently updated to not provide this information during ongoing investigations.

However, the tragic news spread quickly in the close knit community of Vanderhoof and messages of grief and condolences from friends and family have poured out on social media this past week.

The Omineca Express received permission from Eren and Alan, Rodney and Julie for names to be printed, and for the use of the photo.

“Yes, this is my favourite. You can see how she is so brilliantly happy,” says Eren Eggleton.

[They are] loved by many,” says Rodney Neufeld. “The best two 17 year olds in the world to me. They will be greatly missed.. we will never forget them.”

Immediately after the collision the highway was closed for 13 hours to allow the necessary assessment to be done. The road was reopened at 7:00 a.m. on Thursday morning. Several drivers, especially larger commercial vehicles could not manoeuvre to make a u-turn, and waited on the road overnight.

DriveBC stated there was no detour, some traffic did make their way around via Blackwater Road and the Bobtail Forest Service Road.

All the while these drivers and everyone who heard the news, knew a very serious incident had taken place, their thoughts and prayers for those whose lives are changed forever.

- files from Vanderhoof RCMP, photograph and personal information courtesy of the Eggleton and Neufeld families.