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Crash survivor's classmates share their sympathy; those killed in Malahat tragedy identified

Oct 17 2012
Colleen Sen, Grade 1 teacher at Fairview Elementary School in Nanaimo, and her students Carmelo Yuro, 6, left, Cyril Yuro, 6, Madison Weirs, 5, Jorja McHady, 6, Caden Bennett, 6, and Theia Kamiya, 6, look through the flash cards they made to send to classmate Sarina Top, who is recovering in hospital after a fatal crash on the Malahat on Sunday. 

Colleen Sen, Grade 1 teacher at Fairview Elementary School in Nanaimo, and her students Carmelo Yuro, 6, left, Cyril Yuro, 6, Madison Weirs, 5, Jorja McHady, 6, Caden Bennett, 6, and Theia Kamiya, 6, look through the flash cards they made to send to classmate Sarina Top, who is recovering in hospital after a fatal crash on the Malahat on Sunday.

Photograph by: Krista Bryce , Nanaimo Daily News

Students and staff at two Nanaimo schools are mourning after learning that a Grade 10 student and the mother of a Grade 1 student were killed in Sunday’s two-vehicle crash on the Malahat.

Three people were killed and five injured.

Sarina Top, 6, a student at Fairview Elementary, survived the accident but her 30-year-old mother did not.

The two were among five people in a car that lost control while heading south on the wet highway near Whittaker Road at 11:25 a.m. Sunday and skidded into a northbound pickup carrying three adults.

Sarina’s mother, Pheat Top, was briefly conscious before she died behind the wheel, said Malahat Volunteer Fire Department Chief Rob Patterson, who was first on the scene.

Fairview principal Gregg Halfyard said that Top, originally from Cambodia, and her daughter were very close.

“She lost her only parent; her world has changed forever,” Halfyard said.

On Tuesday, the B.C. Coroners Service released the names of those who died in the crash. Besides Top, they were Diane Muriel Lacasca Bocacao, 19, and Gene Kloie Resu Jamisola (who went by the name Kloie), 16.

All three were from Nanaimo and worked at the Tim Hortons restaurant at 2980 Island Highway North.

Family and friends of the victims filed into the restaurant in the afternoon, while others gathered in a corner.

“The three staff that passed … were good people,” said the store manager, who did not give her name.

Kloie, 16, will be remembered as a model student and “everything you could hope for as a teacher,” said Wellington Secondary School teacher Steve Elwood.

The Grade 10 student was working ahead on her classes to finish first semester in early December so she could return to the Philippines for Christmas.

“She is just a really good kid who is going to be missed in the school,”   Elwood said.

The school’s crisis team is expected to be at Wellington today.

Sarina’s classmates have created a booklet that will be delivered to her at Victoria General Hospital, where she remains for observation, accompanied by her grandmother. Her aunt has taken guardianship of Sarina and plans to raise her in Nanaimo.

Colleen Sen, a Grade 1 teacher at Fairview, said she was heartbroken to hear her “quiet, sweet” student was involved in a crash that killed the child’s mother.

“They were a very tight team,” said Sen, who called Sarina a model student “who always has her hands clasped on her desk, ready to listen and learn.”

“She’s just a wonderful little girl who is liked by all her classmates.”

Those classmates were told about the crash Monday and received counselling from child- and youth-care professionals. “We had to react quickly with the facts because kids talk,” Halfyard said.

A 20-year-old man remains in hospital with serious injuries, after being ejected from the car upon impact.

On Tuesday afternoon, he was back in the operating room, police said.

The injured man works at a different Tim Hortons outlet in Nanaimo, at Brooks Landing. His manager said he goes by the name J.R.

The three occupants of the pickup truck struck by the car were all sent to hospital. One was released Monday.

charnett@timescolonist.com

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