The Red Rock First Nation is mourning two of its very youngest members, including 13-year-old Ember Wynne, who died in a car accident en route home from the Little Native Hockey League (NHL) Tournament in Mississauga, where she had just played defense for the Atikameksheng Eagles.
“We are saddened to hear of the passing of our defenseman [no .] 19, Ember Wynne,” said Atikameksheng Eagles staff in a statement released by the Anishinabek Nation. “Ember was a great addition to our team, and she connected with all the girls.”
Ember was killed along with two others—the driver of the van she was riding in, and a three-month-old baby—when their vehicle went into the path of a truck, according to information attributed to local authorities.
Anishinabek Nation Grand Council Chief Patrick Madahbee and other tournament organizers were still at the games when they heard the news.
“This is a terrible tragedy,” Madahbee said. “The kids play their best, have fun, make friends and then something like this happens.”
The tournament includes players from age six to 16, who travel from First Nations across Ontario, according to the Aboriginal Peoples Television Network (APTN).
According to the Anishinabek Nation, the accident occurred at 8:19 p.m. on Wednesday March 18 when the van they were in exited the highway and drove into the path of a tractor-trailer. Two other passengers were taken to the hospital with life-threatening injuries, APTN said.
“The driver, William Tuck, 71 from Lake Helen First Nation and passengers 13 year-old Ember Wynne and three month-old Myah Kowtiash, both from Red Rock, died of their injuries,” said the Anishinabek Nation, attributing the information to the West Parry Sound OPP. “Two passengers from the van were also transported to hospital with life-threatening injuries.”
Condolences poured in from the region.
“I am saddened by this tragic news and pray for the families who have lost their loved ones,” said Ontario Regional Chief Stan Beardy in a statement from the Chiefs of Ontario. “Our hearts and prayers go out to families and everyone traveling home from the Little NHL hockey tournament.”
The Chiefs of Ontario said donations to help Ember’s family could be sent to Anishinabek Nation 7th Generation Charity, P.O. Box 711, North Bay, Ontario P1B 8J8. In addition, Atikameksheng Anishnawbek have set up a memorial at the Magnetawan Gas Station for anyone traveling home for people to “offer your tobacco and say prayers.”