News

Vanier grade 11 student dies while on field trip

By Spencer Anderson

Echo Staff

A Grade 11 female student at G. P. Vanier Secondary School has died after being found unresponsive early Wednesday morning during a school district field trip on Hornby Island.

The student "passed very peacefully in her sleep from all appearances by natural causes," said Paul Berry, director of instruction for health and safety for School District 71.

The B.C. Coroners Service now handling the matter, Berry confirmed.

Berry said the student had been on a trip with 35 other Grade 11 students from all three local high schools as part of the district outdoor education program Explore.

The students had spent the day at the Tribune Bay Outdoor Education Centre and had finished evening with games and singing around the campfire.

But by 7:30 a.m. the next morning, the teen could not be roused out of bed. Students and staff called emergency services and began performing CPR, but the student "was not able to be resuscitated," Berry said.

Berry said district officials were not aware of any medical concerns regarding the student, adding the school district is "very careful" to be made aware of such information.

Berry said the student appeared in fine spirits before she went to bed, calling the incident "a real tragedy."

The school district deployed its critical incident response team immediately to bring students and staff home and provide counselling services.

There were 13 other Grade 11 girls sharing a cabin with the student.

Berry praised staff at the education centre and supervisors of the trip for their efforts and also praised other students on trip.

"The kids were very mature, very supportive; they wanted to help each other and staff work through this," he said.

Berry said the student was known as "a very joyous, vibrant, bright young woman," who excelled in sports, pulled down straight A's and who spent time as an international exchange student to Spain.

The school district is not naming the deceased teen.

But tributes rolled in online for a girl named Sara Manitoski. The Vanier Parents Facebook group offered "heartfelt condolences to Sara's family" and said extra counsellors would be available for students at the high school.

Another post by a user named Alyssa Marie said: "The first time you came up to me and said hi was the day Iknew We'd be the best of friends. Your smile was contagious and your personality was like no other."

The Vanier student government posted the following on its Facebook page:

"Vanier Student Government would like to extend their deepest condolences to Sara's friends and family who were affected by this horrific news this afternoon. Sara was a beautiful soul who touched everyone she met and she will be greatly missed at this school. There will be grief counsellors at the school tomorrow for any and all who feel they need someone to talk to. We hope that you all choose to remember the numerous good things about Sara rather than focusing on the sad".

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