“Two of the most beautiful children”: the man. City mourns teens killed in tornado


TORONTO – In a small town in Manitoba where everyone knows everyone, Shayna Barnesky and Carter Tilbury have been part of each other’s lives since elementary school. It wasn’t until high school that the two started dating. But last Friday, the couple’s love affair was cut short.

They were killed as they passed through the RM of Pipestone after a sudden tornado ravaged the area, throwing them out of their vehicle – and throwing their hometown of Melita into mourning.

They were both pronounced dead at the scene. Police believe they were thrown from the vehicle in the storm.

A 54-year-old man from the Sioux Valley Dakota First Nation was also found in a damaged vehicle. He was taken to hospital with serious injuries but without danger of death.

Friends say the 18-year-olds were similar: kind and caring, both athletes, both from families deeply rooted in their city.

“They were a wonderful couple of kids,” Melita Mayor Bill Holden told CTV News. “I don’t mean they were two of the prettiest kids in town, but they really were. Both calm and good. It will be hard on the families. Really, really, really hard on families.

Melita has a population of just over a thousand and is located just 35 kilometers from the US border. Since Friday’s tragedy, the community has changed.

“You can smell it in the air today,” Anglican priest Matt Koovisk said. “It’s a cloudy day and people are just feeling […] sad, gloomy about what happened.

No one knows if the couple saw the tornado, which witnesses say was explosive, when it suddenly appeared after a small, intense thunderstorm on Friday night.

Police say Tilbury’s truck was found more than a mile from the motorway. The teens were discovered in a field, pulled from the vehicle by the force of the tornado.

They were pronounced dead at the scene.

Another man was found stranded in his car, which was overturned on downed power lines. The 54-year-old man, who is from Sioux Valley Dakota First Nation, suffered serious injuries and is now recovering in hospital.

With wind speeds of up to 190 kilometers per hour, tornado EF-2 blazed a narrow but devastating path of destruction. In addition to throwing the two vehicles, he struck a farm, smashing more than a dozen grain elevators. A thick spruce windbreak was also shattered like matches by the winds.

The damage highlights how a tornado can change everything in an instant, cut down trees that have spent years growing – and cut human life short.

With files from Ben Cousins


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