‘We miss her:’ Father of Alberta teen who died convinced she had COVID-19 variant

He said Sarah’s death should be a reminder for everyone to take the pandemic seriously

Sarah Strate is shown in this family handout image. Ron Strate says he has received about a thousand messages from people in Canada and around the world who have been touched by the story of his 17-year-old daughter Sarah. The healthy and active senior high school student from Magrath, a small southern Alberta town, was doing perfectly fine when her health suddenly deteriorated Monday and she died soon after arriving to hospital. THE CANADIAN PRESS/HO-Ron Strate *MANDATORY CREDIT*

Sarah Strate is shown in this family handout image. Ron Strate says he has received about a thousand messages from people in Canada and around the world who have been touched by the story of his 17-year-old daughter Sarah. The healthy and active senior high school student from Magrath, a small southern Alberta town, was doing perfectly fine when her health suddenly deteriorated Monday and she died soon after arriving to hospital. THE CANADIAN PRESS/HO-Ron Strate *MANDATORY CREDIT*

Ron Strate says he has received about a thousand messages from people in Canada and around the world who have been touched by the story of his 17-year-old daughter, Sarah.

The senior high school student from Magrath, a small southern Alberta town, had seemed fine before her health suddenly deteriorated Monday, said her father.

She died soon after arriving at hospital.

Officials have not confirmed Sarah died of COVID-19. But as cases continue to surge in Alberta — currently the province with the highest rate of new daily infections in the country — Strate said he is convinced she died because of a variant of the virus.

“It’s always just been numbers until you can put a face to it … Now one is my daughter,” Strate, a school teacher, said Wednesday.

“I haven’t even been able to go on. I’ve had a thousand messages of condolences and I can’t get to them because I’m gonna start crying.”

Sarah was three classes away from graduation and was excited to attend college in Lethbridge to become a masseuse, her father said.

The second youngest of the family’s five children was also the life of the party, he said.

“She loved to sing and dance. She was a pianist. She did percussion in band. She was a drummer.”

He said more than a week ago, Sarah’s 20-year-old sister tested positive for COVID-19 and Sarah started complaining about a sore throat days later. She was booked to get a COVID-19 test on Wednesday.

Sarah was isolating in the basement of the family’s home. On Monday, Strate says her health went downhill.

“She started to go delirious and was starting to lose focus on what reality was. So I said, ‘We got to call 9-1-1.’”

Strate said they waited about 20 minutes for an ambulance. During that time, he talked to Sarah. Her arms shook as she lay on the floor.

“We talked about being strong and how much we loved her and, you know, whatever our Father and heavens will is will happen,” Strate said.

“We never expected her to die.”

Strate said a medical examiner told him Sarah had actually been sick for three weeks. A lab test is being done to see if she was infected with a COVID-19 variant.

“They say her lung was really hard and heavy. And I said, ‘How does that happen within a couple of days?’ “They can’t explain it.”

After her death, Strate said many people reached out to tell him that Sarah had saved their kids lives as a leader with Hope Squad, a peer-to-peer suicide prevention program.

He said Sarah’s death should also be a reminder for everyone to take the pandemic seriously.

“This was not her time. If everyone would have just done everything right the first time when we were asked to shut down and use our brains … we probably be out of it now,” Strate said.

“All these rallies, fighting the government on (restrictions) … I totally feel for people that have businesses. Yes, we have freedoms in this country. Of course we do. But also respect what is going on so that we can try to keep our country safe.”

On Monday, he said students at Sarah’s high school plan to wear onesies to honour her, because she loved wearing them so much.

Her younger sister, 13-year-old Bree, wants to wear a unicorn onesie that Sarah always wore, said Strate.

“We love her and we miss her,” he said while crying.

“We’re always gonna miss her. But in our faith, we believe that we will see her again and I can’t wait.”

— By Fakiha Baig in Edmonton

___

This story was produced with the financial assistance of the Facebook and Canadian Press News Fellowship.

The Canadian Press


Like us on Facebook and follow us on Twitter.

AlbertaCoronavirus

Get local stories you won't find anywhere else right to your inbox.
Sign up here

Just Posted

Skeena Bulkley-Valley MP Taylor Bachrach has been working across party lines to have rail safety issues addressed. An April 27, 2020 train derailment blocked five intersecting tracks on the CN rail line in Prince Rupert close to the waterfront on Bill Murray Drive. (Photo: K-J Millar/The Northern View)
Bachrach pushes for rail safety and wants NW voices to be heard

Residents and community leaders are concerned about safety and preparedness in the NW

Over 8000 BC Hydro customers have been affected by the power outage. (BC Hydro outage map)
Power outage affects 8000 BC Hydro customers in Prince Rupert area

BC Hydro has assigned crews to restore power

Josie Pottle rocks out to placing painted rocks by more than 14 different Prince Rupert childcare organization staff and tots for rock gardens around the city to mark May as Childcare Awareness month. (Photo: K-J Millar/The Northern View)
Childcare month is rocking it in Prince Rupert

More than 14 local childcare organizations participated in making rock gardens

Volunteers at the AFFNO drive-in movie theatre night at the Jim Ciccone Centre on May 8, directed traffic and braved the rain before the movies started. (Photo: K-J Millar/The Northern View)
It was lights, camera, action for AFFNO’s drive-in movie night

Volunteers and moviegoers watched a double feature in both official languages

Pembina Prince Rupert Terminal has entered into a one-year agreement with Mitsui & Co. for the majority of its production for supply to the Asian markets, Pembina announced on May 6th. (Photo: Supplied
Prince Rupert Terminal highlighted in Pembina first quarter

Pembina announced one-year agreement with Mitsui & Co. to supply Asian market

A bullet hole is seen in the windshield of an RCMP vehicle approximately 4 km from Vancouver International Airport after a one person was killed during a shooting outside the international departures terminal at the airport, in Richmond, B.C., Sunday, May 9, 2021. THE CANADIAN PRESS/Darryl Dyck
Homicide team IDs man in fatal YVR shooting as police grapple with spate of gang violence

Man, 20, charged in separate fatal shooting Burnaby over the weekend

Keith MacIntyre - BC Libertarian
Penticton’s Keith MacIntyre new leader of the B.C. Libertarian Party

The Penticton businessman was voted in by members of the party on May 8

RCMP are searching for Philip Toner, who is a 'person of interest' in the investigation of a suspicious death in Kootenay National Park last week. Photo courtesy BC RCMP.
Man sought in suspicious Kootenay death found in Lake Country

Philip Toner is a person of interest in the death of Brenda Ware

Vernon North Okanagan RCMP reported to 287 mental health calls between Jan. 1, 2021, and May 1. (Black Press files)
‘It’s not the police’s responsibility to deal with mental health calls’: Vernon RCMP

RCMP remind public to take care of mental health and well-being, while better solutions are sought

Thompson Rivers University campus is in Kamloops, B.C. (KTW file photo)
Thompson Rivers the 1st B.C. university to supply free menstrual products

The university will offer the products this September

Fraser Health is using ‘targeted’ vaccination clinics in high-risk areas of the Lower Mainland. (Fraser Health photo)
B.C.’s COVID-19 decrease continues, 515 new cases Tuesday

426 seriously ill people in hospital, up from 415 Monday

The site of Sunfest, Laketown Ranch, will be open for camping this summer. (Citizen file)
Sunfest country music bash won’t be shining on B.C. in 2021

Annual Vancouver Island Festival cancelled due to COVID-19, along with Laketown Shakedown

Tla-o-qui-aht First Nation elected chief councillor Moses Martin, who was also Chantel Moore’s grandfather, speaks to media in Port Alberni on Aug. 16, 2020, during a visit from NDP leader Jagmeet Singh following the police shooting of Chantel Moore. (Elena Rardon photo)
Mother of 2 shot by police in critical condition, says B.C. First Nation chief

Community ‘devastated’ by third member of 1,150-person Vancouver Island nation shot in less than a year

B.C. Agriculture Minister Lana Popham promotes the government’s BuyBC food program in 2019. (B.C. government)
Money running out for fresh fruit, vegetables, milk in B.C. schools

‘Looking at ways to support this type of program,’ minister says

Most Read