Edmonton

Alberta mother of 4 killed in Las Vegas mass shooting

Jessica Klymchuk, 34, worked at St. Stephen's School in Valleyview, where her children attend

CBC News

October 02, 2017

Jessica Klymchuk worked as an educational assistant, librarian and bus driver for St. Stephen's school in Valleyview. (Facebook)

A northern Alberta woman has been identified as one of the victims of Sunday night's mass shooting in Las Vegas.

Jessica Klymchuk of Valleyview has been identified as one of at least 58 people killed in the attack which left more than 500 injured.

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Klymchuk, 34, was an educational assistant, librarian and bus driver at St. Stephen's School in Valleyview, 350 kilometres northwest of Edmonton.

"She leaves to mourn four children who all attend St. Stephen's and her new husband," Betty Turpin, superintendent of the Holy Family Catholic Regional Division, said in a message to trustees. "She has been an employee of HFCRD for four years. Please keep the staff and students of St. Stephen's and her family in your prayers."

Rev. Abraham Joseph of St. Rita's Catholic Church in Valleyview knew Klymchuk for the past two years.

"She was loved by the kids," Joseph said. He described her as a "lovely person" who was a popular figure at the K-9 school.

'It was really a shock to the kids.' - Rev.  Abraham Joseph

Joseph was at the school Monday morning when the news was broken to staff and students.

"All the teachers were crying" in the staff room when they were told what happened, Joseph said.

Students then gathered in the school gym where they were told about the tragedy.

"It was really a shock to the kids," Joseph said.

He plans to spend more time at the school this week to support staff and students.

Joseph said he would also be going to see Klymchuk's four "lovely children" to spend time with them as well. He said he understands they are in Grades 4, 7, 8 and 9.

Crisis support workers helping staff, students

Turpin also issued a media release Monday confirming Klymchuk's death.

"It is with shock and sadness that we confirm the loss of a Holy Family Catholic Regional Division staff member," she said in the statement.

Turpin said the school division will have crisis support in place immediately and as long as it is needed.

Some children were given the offer of going home to their families after hearing the news.

"Our thoughts and prayers are with the family, as well as the families affected by this unimaginable attack," Turpin said in the statement.

In a separate message to staff, Turpin said Klymchuk had been employed by the school division for four years.

Alberta Premier Rachel Notley sent out her condolences on social media.

Peace River-Westlock MP Arnold Viersen said he is heartbroken and the whole community of Valleyview is in shock.

Viersen said it was hard to find the words to express his feelings, but he has contacted Jessica Klymchuk's family to offer his condolences, support and prayers.

"My heart goes out to Jessica's family and friends. As a father and sibling I know what kind of an impact this is going to have," he said.

Viersen said it's too early to know how the community will honour Klymchuk. But he said Valleyview is a resilient and close-knit community and people are rallying around to support her family and friends.

Close call for Red Deer couple

Meanwhile, a Red Deer man said he and his wife fled when they heard gunfire erupt at the Las Vegas country music festival.

Jason and Tina Beisick were standing with other music fans watching Jason Aldean's performance. Aldean finished a song, and then they heard "four quick pops," Jason Beisick told CBC's Radio Active on Monday.

Beisick said he thought the sounds were firecrackers or part of the pyrotechnics.

"After that, it was a hail of gunfire. Literally," he said.

Jason Beisick and his wife escaped the country music festival after the gunfire started. (Facebook)

The couple tried to stay low but fled once they realized the bullets were raining down from high up in a nearby hotel.

"It was pretty much pandemonium," Beisick recalled from a condo in Las Vegas. "We had to scale a chain-link fence and run across the parking lot, still under fire.

"We could actually hear gunfire hitting the cars in the parking lot."

No one Beisick was with from Red Deer was shot, but a friend had blood all over his leg and shoe. Beisick said no one was sure where it came from.

He said another woman near him had been shot in the back and didn't notice until after she made it to cover. He didn't know her, he said.

Later, as the adrenalin wore off, Beisick and his wife began to understand what they had come through.

"It's starting to sink in that this has happened and it could have been us," he said. "It was actually surreal."

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