Winnipeg Free Press - PRINT EDITION

Steinbach teen dies in sled accident

Snowmobile collides with trees by road

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A 16-year-old Steinbach boy died Saturday evening when his snowmobile hit trees near Provincial Road 210, RCMP said Sunday afternoon.

The deceased is Jonah Crookes, who was a Grade 10 student at Steinbach Regional Secondary School.

Police and emergency crews were called to a fireguard around 7 p.m. Saturday, about 1.5 kilometres from Provincial Road 210, Sgt. Rob Lockhart said.

"Initial investigation indicates that a 16-year-old youth from Steinbach was in a group of five travelling on fireguard 18, when the youth lost control of his snowmobile on a corner and collided with several trees," Lockhart said. "The youth was transported to the local hospital where he was pronounced deceased. The rider was wearing a helmet at the time of the collision."

Hanover School Division superintendent Randy Dueck said grief counsellors will be in the school this morning, and the school hopes to hold a memorial service for Jonah before classes end Friday for the Christmas break.

"There is a hope we do that" after consultation with the family, Dueck said.

Jonah's name was being widely reported in Steinbach on social media Sunday.

"Most kids will know, but there may be some who don't" and will only find out when they get to school, Dueck said. "It has an impact -- we just don't expect 16-year-olds to die."

Steinbach Regional Secondary School posted news of Jonah's death on its website, under the heading:

We remember Jonah Crookes. July 8, 1997 to Dec. 14, 2013.

Jonah was a member of the SRSS Class of 2015, studying in the building construction vocational program. Jonah will be missed by his family, friends, classmates and teachers," the school website said.

Alcohol is not considered to be a factor, said Lockhart. While the investigation is continuing, speed and lighting conditions are believed to be contributing factors, said Lockhart.

RCMP did not release Jonah's name.

The Steinbach Carillon reported the dead boy is the son of a local volunteer firefighter.

MLA Kelvin Goertzen said Sunday evening he knows the family, but he would not comment out of respect for them.

When deaths of students occur suddenly, schools summon crisis-response teams and grief counsellors to be in schools the first day of school following tragedies, to help students and staff cope with the news.

"Absolutely," Dueck said.

An assistant superintendent "has dedicated staff coming to SRSS (this) morning," he said.

Dueck said he first heard of the boy's death from his own son-in-law: "It was announced at church," he said.

Messages of condolence and support for Jonah's family can be left at http://www.srss.ca/student/we_remember/j.crookes.php.

nick.martin@freepress.mb.ca

Republished from the Winnipeg Free Press print edition December 16, 2013 A3

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