Nicola Valley mourns local teen killed in crash
Victor Charlie touched every piece of this valley and then some, said Shackan Band Councillor Leonard Joe during Friday’s funeral service at the Nicola Valley Rodeo Grounds.
Hundreds of people filled the bleachers at the rodeo grounds for the morning service to honour Charlie who died when his truck fell down a 150-foot embankment on Highway 5A a week earlier.
Kamloops Rural RCMP Staff Sgt. Doug Aird said emergency crews were called to a portion of the highway near Napier Lake, about 20 kilometres south of Kamloops, just before 3:30 p.m. on July 20. A motorist had noticed skid marks leaving the roadway, he said.
Fire crews located the truck about 150 feet down the embankment and the single occupant — identified by the BC Coroners Service as 18-year-old Charlie — was found dead inside.
Charlie, a member of Merritt Secondary School’s graduation class of 2011, would have turned 19 two days later.
Friends and family gathered for a candlelight vigil two days after the accident at the rodeo grounds on July 22 — the day that would have been his birthday.
Again, the community filled the rodeo ground stands on Friday for Charlie’s funeral services. Pallbearers carried his casket into the arena, while friends and family on horseback looked on.
During the service, Joe read the eulogy for Charlie who was a member of the Shackan band.
Born July 22, 1993, to Margaret Charlie and Vern Saul, Charlie was the oldest of seven children. He lived 15 years in foster care with Charlene Snider’s family.
Charlie attended the Nicola Valley Institute of Technology for one year in the Law Enforcement Preparatory Program. He had hoped to pursue a career with the RCMP. His other dream was to be a rodeo bull rider.
“It’s fitting to be here at the rodeo grounds,” said Joe, stooping to pick up a handful of dirt. “He was one of our true native sons of the Valley.
“Looking out we can see all the lives he touched in his short life. We all felt a gap in our hearts on the day we heard the sad story.”
During the service, Sarah Forsberg, Charlie’s girlfriend of three years, also spoke, as well as representatives from the Charlie and Snider families.
Before those in attendance said their final farewells, Master of Ceremonies Jayson Charters (Charlie’s cousin) spoke to the youth and advised them to drive cautiously.
“When you’re driving your vehicle out there from this day forward, please be careful,” he said. “Take a lot of time to get where you’re going. Being late is OK; never showing up, it’s not OK.”
After songs from David Forsberg and Randy Chillihitzia, as well as an “eight second tribute” to the aspiring rodeo rider, the service concluded.
“Let’s say goodbye to the one that packed the biggest smile in the Nicola Valley,” said Charters.
Charlie was buried in Ashcroft.