Friends and family are mourning the loss of two young women from Chilliwack over the weekend.
Rachel Plowman and Ruby Kingma died in a car crash along Ballam Road in rural Chilliwack at about 11:30 p.m. on Oct. 10. RCMP say the vehicle they were in crossed the low cement barrier and flipped down the embankment before landing in the Fraser River. The two-lane road winds along the Fraser River, and is the site of previous similar crashes.
RCMP have not released the names of the three people involved, but social media posts remembering the two women have appeared. There is also a support page for the third occupant of the vehicle, Elias Dolabany. The 21-year-old was last reported be in an intensive care unit in a medically induced coma.
First responders were able to reach the vehicle and remove all three people, and performed life-saving efforts on the river’s edge. Kingma and Plowman were unable to be resuscitated, and Dolabany was airlifted to Vancouver General Hospital.
Kingma’s sister, Bethany Kingma Neufeld, has created a public post to remember her sister.
“My dearest baby sister, Ruby Tuesday. I can’t even believe I’m writing this,” she wrote. “My little sister Ruby passed away in a tragic car crash late last night. She will be so deeply missed by our family and we take comfort in knowing we will see her again.”
A Facebook group called Support and Prayers for Elias and Family has been keeping the public informed of his progress. It mentions that his mother is from Syria and has been spending all of her time at the hospital by her son’s side.
“Elias was very close with his mother and sisters,” writes Amie Maria. “He worked hard and contributed financially towards making the ends meet for the family as his mother has been unable to work due to covid. Elias’s family are Syrian immigrants. They have no other family out here and very small support network.”
(Video courtesy Curtis Kreklau/South Fraser News Services)
RCMP released information about the crash early the following day.
“Emergency responders arrived and located the vehicle down an embankment in the Fraser River approximately 10 feet from the dyke and immediately began rescue efforts,” said St. Krista Vrolyk, media spokesperson for the Chilliwack RCMP. “Despite CPR and life-saving efforts, two females, aged 17 and 18, were pronounced dead on scene. A 21-year-old male was airlifted to a regional hospital where he remains in critical condition.”
The quick response by emergency crews is reportedly due to a witness who was following the car and called 911.
Early Sunday morning, three friends of the victims were grieving at the crash site. They scrolled through photos of their friends, talked about their lives and consoled each other. A memorial of flowers, cards, candles and even pieces of the car has been growing at the site.
The crash is still under investigation by the Chilliwack RCMP, the Lower Mainland District -Integrated Collision Analyst Reconstructionist Service (ICARS) and BC Coroners Service.
“Fatal collisions are always tragic, but ones involving young people are particularly difficult,” says Vrolyk. “Our thoughts and condolences go out to the family and friends of all those involved in last night’s crash.”
The accident was at the same point on Ballam Road where a similar tragic crash took place in January of 2016. A memorial is still there for Connor Dash and Gerritt Niessen, who were 18 when they died.
The City of Chilliwack then placed a cement barrier between the road and the river in the hopes of preventing similar crashes. In the wake of the Oct. 10 crash, residents have said that the barrier isn’t enough, and that more safety measures are needed in the area.
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