‘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

Peachland resident and cleanup volunteer Lloyd Stinson Sotas holds up a discarded TV riddled with bullet holes. (Aaron Hemens/Capital News)
PHOTOS: Peachland residents clean up community watershed

More than 70 people gave back to Mother Earth by assisting with the cleanup

Steven Brown is running for Penticton city council in the June by-election. (Contributed)
Penticton race director throws hat into city council ring

Steven Brown will run with a focus on small business

Penticton Vees celebrate a goal in their second win to start their season on Saturday night at the SOEC. (Brennan Phillips - Western News)
Penticton Vees head into final weekend tied for first in league

The Vees have two games to take the top spot

Coronavirus 3D illustration. (CDC photo)
Two Summerland businesses closed due to COVID-19

The businesses are listed on the Interior Health website

Memorials have been set up to honour those who died during the Second World War. (Pixabay.com)
COLUMN: It’s time to stop making comparisons to Hitler

The deadliest, most destructive war in human history should not become a metaphor

(The Canadian Press)
Trudeau won’t say whether Canada supports patent waiver for COVID-19 vaccines

‘Canada is at the table to help find a solution’

Edmonton Oilers’ Connor McDavid (97) celebrates his 100th point this season with Leon Draisaitl (29) against the Vancouver Canucks during second period NHL action in Edmonton on Saturday, May 8, 2021.THE CANADIAN PRESS/Jason Franson
Edmonton superstar McDavid hits 100-point mark as Oilers edge Canucks 4-3

NHL scoring leader needs just 53 games to reach century mark

City of Vernon Coun. Dalvir Nahal proposed two blocks of Main Street be closed to bolster recovery for downtown businesses amid the COVID-19 pandemic. (Caitlin Clow - Vernon Morning Star)
Vernon’s ‘support local’ Main Street closure would cost city $24K, staff say

Bylaw costs, loss of parking revenue and equipment logistics behind price tag

Five properties have been added to the Lake Country fire protection zone, after council moved to expand the local service area Tuesday, May 4, 2021. (Google Maps)
Lake Country expands fire protection zone, covering 5 exposed properties

The properties petitioned to join the local service area after being left out ‘for reasons unknown’

VSAR’s Air Rescue One unit assisted in a rescue in West Kelowna May 3, 2021. (VSAR screenshot)
VIDEO: VSAR’s Air Rescue One team assists in West Kelowna Rescue

The Vernon Search and Rescue helicopter team pulled off a successful rescue Monday

Officials are surveying the streets of Vernon to get a better sense of the issue of homelessness in the city, as part of the province’s point-in-time homeless count for 2021. (Brendan Shykora - Morning Star)
Province conducts homeless count in Vernon

It’s the first time Vernon has been included in the provincial homeless count

A map showing where the most number of cases were recorded from April 23 to 29. This map, revealing a breakdown of infections by neighborhood, was pulled from a data package leaked to the Vancouver Sun last week (and independently verified).
36 Abbotsford schools flagged for COVID-19 exposures in the last 2 weeks, shattering record

Clearbrook Elementary recorded an ‘exposure’ on all 11 school days

A proposed development would see two four-storey affordable housing complexes erected on Adair Street in Armstrong, next to the Nor-Val Arena. (Google Maps)
Local tenants to be prioritized for Armstrong affordable housing project

Staff have drafted an expression of interest to find a developer to move forward with on the project

Most Read