‘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,” by John Hudson and Paul Hanslow is one of five fonts in the running to become the default for Microsoft systems and Office programs. (Black Press Media File Photo)
Font named after Skeena River could become the next Microsoft default

One of the five new fonts will replace Calibri, which has been Microsoft’s default since 2007

CGL’s graphic of the month showing planned activity for summer. (CGL update/Lakes District News)
Coastal GasLink reaches 692 km pipe delivery milestone

2 new COVID cases linked with pipeline accomodations

Volunteers from Tachie and Binche spent Sunday morning and afternoon cleaning up the Tachie Highway. (Joshua Hallman photo)
Tachie and Binche communities cleanup Tachie Highway

“We don’t just say we care about the environment,” said organizer. “We take action.”

CN Rail locomotives are moved on tracks past cargo containers sitting on idle train cars at port in Vancouver last February. RCMP in Northern, B.C. are currently investigating after a CN Freight Train struck some debris that appeared to be intentionally placed across the track on the Nechako River Bridge in Fraser Lake (THE CANADIAN PRESS/Darryl Dyck)
Freight Train strikes debris on Nechako River Bridge: RCMP

Intentionally placed debris could have resulted in a disaster

Highway 16 between Prince George and Vanderhoof was reduced to single lane alternating traffic April 21, 2021 at Cluculz Lake between East Bay and Lloyd Drive due to a slide. (YRB Vanderhoof photo)
Repair efforts continuing on Highway 16 after slide

Two-way traffic restored earlier this week

Jose Marchand prepares Pfizer COVID-19 vaccination doses at a mobile clinic for members of First Nations and their partners, in Montreal, Friday, April 30, 2021. The National Advisory Committee on Immunization is coming under fire after contradicting the advice Canadians have been receiving for weeks to take the first vaccine against COVID-19 that they’re offered. THE CANADIAN PRESS/Ryan Remiorz
Trudeau says he is glad he got AstraZeneca, vaccines are only way out of pandemic

‘The most important thing is to get vaccinated with the first vaccine offered to you’

Solar panels on a parking garage at the University of B.C. will be used to separate water into oxygen and hydrogen, the latter captured to supply a vehicle filling station. (UBC video)
UBC parkade project to use solar energy for hydrogen vehicles

Demonstration project gets $5.6M in low-carbon fuel credits

FILE – A student arrives at school as teachers dressed in red participate in a solidarity march to raise awareness about cases of COVID-19 at Ecole Woodward Hill Elementary School, in Surrey, B.C., on Tuesday, February 23, 2021. THE CANADIAN PRESS/Darryl Dyck
B.C. ‘should be able to’ offer 1st dose of COVID vaccine to kids 12+ by end of June: Henry

Health Canada authorized the vaccine for younger teens this morning

Cannabis bought in British Columbia (Ashley Wadhwani/Black Press Media)
Is it time to start thinking about greener ways to package cannabis?

Packaging suppliers are still figuring eco-friendly and affordable packaging options that fit the mandates of Cannabis Regulations

A woman in the Harrison Mills area was attacked by a cougar on Tuesday, May 4. B.C. Conservation Officers killed two male cougars in the area; the attack was determined to be predatory in nature. (File photo)
2 cougars killed following attack on woman in Agassiz area

Attack victim remains in hospital in stable condition

A woman wears a face mask and shield to curb the spread of COVID-19 while walking in North Vancouver, B.C., on Wednesday, January 6, 2021. THE CANADIAN PRESS/Darryl Dyck
B.C. CDC updates info, acknowledging small respiratory droplets can spread COVID-19

Large droplets, not aerosols had been fixture of public health messaging for many months

A picture of Shirley Ann Soosay was rendered from a postmortem photographer and circulated on social media. (DDP graphic)
B.C. genealogist key to naming murder victim in decades-old California cold case

In July 1980, Shirley Ann Soosay was raped and stabbed to death

Mary Kitagawa was born on Salt Spring Island and was seven years old when she was interned along with 22,000 B.C. residents in 1942. (B.C. government video)
B.C. funds health services for survivors of Japanese internment

Seniors describe legacy of World War II displacement

Most Read