Winnipeg Free Press - PRINT EDITION

News of death kills wife

Husband killed in car crash, spouse dies six hours later

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They were married for almost six decades, and died within six hours of each other.

George Shaver, 83, perished in a car crash Thursday afternoon, but his family is facing a double-whammy after his wife, Irene, 79, died shortly after hearing the tragic news.

The devoted husband was on his way to buy his sick wife medication when his Dodge Stratus collided with another car, killing him.

When Mounties informed Irene about her husband's death, her health took a turn for the worse.

The emphysema sufferer died Thursday night after she was rushed to hospital by ambulance from Ostenfeld, where the pair lived.

"I'm sure she died of a broken heart," said Cliff Shaver, 50, one of the Shavers' five children. "Like my daughter says, 'It was sad, but sweet at the same time.' ...They're still together."

At about 3:40 p.m., Shaver was driving south on Provincial Road 302, three kilometres north of Highway 15. Police said his car collided with a northbound Chevrolet Cavalier driven by a 19-year-old Anola woman.

She went to hospital in stable condition.

Cliff Shaver said after he received news of the crash, he went to comfort his mother at the couple's home in Ostenfeld, 40 kilometres east of Winnipeg.

"I passed the ambulance (carrying her) on the highway as I was coming to the house," he said. He said his mother had problems with her lungs and her health had been deteriorating during the last year.

"It was going downhill quite a bit in the last few weeks and we knew she was going to pass soon," he said. "When she heard the news, that was about the end of it."

The exact cause of his mother's death wasn't clear Friday, Shaver said.

"I don't know if there was an official (cause)," he said. "She was just fading."

The couple of 58 years had one son who predeceased them, and four remaining sons and one daughter.

"My dad was looking after (mom.) She was in rough shape and dad was taking care of her," Shaver said.

His father was in good health before the crash, still shovelling snow and loading hay.

Shaver said his mother, a homemaker, and father, a farmer and former machinist for a steel manufacturer, were close.

"My dad, he was kind of the Mr. Fix-it of the area. And people brought their stuff to him and he would fix it," the son said.

"Mom kind of kept him on the straight and narrow. It was a good relationship they had."

He said his siblings and extended family have banded together in the wake of the deaths. He is grateful to the Mounties and paramedics who helped his parents.

"We're doing as well as we can, I guess," he said. "Their extended family loved and cared for them."

The family is planning the couple's funerals, which Shaver said would be in Winnipeg. The two will be buried together, he said.

RCMP said poor driving conditions due to the snowfall were a contributing factor in the crash. Const. Miles Hiebert said bad weather means drivers should adjust by slowing down and using caution.

"There have been a number of collisions over the last few days that appear to be weather-related," he said. "This time of year, the weather can change in a moment."

Republished from the Winnipeg Free Press print edition November 27, 2010 A5

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