British Columbia

6-year-old killed in collision after family forced to flee Merritt, B.C., due to flooding

A mother from Merritt, B.C., is reeling from the death of her six-year-old daughter on Nov. 18 following a highway crash that occurred as the displaced family was travelling to find a safe haven from the floods.

Ember Young died in highway crash south of Logan Lake as family was travelling to stay with friend

Ember Young of Merritt, B.C., in an undated photo. The six-year-old died following a collision on Highway 97C south of Logan Lake, B.C., on Nov. 18, while her family was driving to stay with a friend after being displaced by the floods. (Daisy Young)

A mother from Merritt, B.C., is reeling from the death of her six-year-old daughter following a highway crash that occurred as the displaced family was travelling to find a safe haven from floods in the southern part of the province.

Ember Young, 6, died on Nov. 18 when the vehicle she was in with her mother and sister collided with a utility vehicle along Highway 97C, south of Logan Lake in B.C.'s Southern Interior.

"She was a sweet, lovable girl, and it's very unfortunate that this had to happen to her because she was just the happiest, sweetest little thing," said her mother, Jordan Goetz Young.

The tragedy illustrates the far-reaching impacts of the catastrophic flooding in British Columbia. In addition to loss of life, highways have been destroyed, farmers' fields have been covered in water and thousands of people have been displaced.

Ember loved learning French at school and doing ballet, says her mother, Jordan Goetz Young. (Daisy Young)

Goetz Young, 32, was already facing tragedy following the death of her estranged husband in September from a drug overdose. She had moved to Merritt from Langley in August with her two daughters, Ember and five-year-old Hailey, to stay with her parents and start life anew.

But on Nov. 15, her life was once again upended when she and her daughters were forced to flee Merritt, like all residents, due to the failure of the town's water treatment system.

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They went to Kamloops and stayed in a hotel, but the cost of the accommodation forced her to make a new plan, which was to go to Lower Nicola, northwest of Merritt, and stay with a friend.

"I was afraid I wasn't going to be able to afford [the hotel], so that's what heavily influenced my decision to go back home," she said.

Fatal detour

Driving Highway 5 from Kamloops to Merritt was something Goetz Young had done regularly, but on Nov. 18, the roadway was closed at Merritt, so to get to Lower Nicola she was forced to take Highway 97C, through Logan Lake.

It was just south of that town where she lost control of the vehicle she was in, spun into the oncoming lane and collided with a truck.

"I felt the back end of the car kind of slipping and I felt myself going off the road, and I started to freak out because I saw there was a huge vehicle in the other lane," she said. "I just remember feeling this huge force and I don't ... I got knocked out from the airbag."

When she regained consciousness, Goetz Young looked in the back seat at her two children and saw that Ember was bleeding and unconscious.

"I started to absolutely freak out," she said. "I just remember screaming and begging for help, and a bunch of people came and helped me."

Logan Lake RCMP said the collision occurred just after noon on Nov. 18. Investigators said at the time that there was a head-on collision between a passenger vehicle and a large utility vehicle.

"A child in the passenger vehicle died as a result of the collision," a news release said.

Goetz Young said her daughter Hailey suffered a severely broken arm that required surgery, while she broke one of her fingers in the crash.

As she tries to cope with the loss of her daughter, who she says loved learning French at school and doing ballet, she can't help but wonder why she was forced to take the detour along Highway 97C.

"I don't understand why," she said. "Nobody likes the Logan Lake road. That's a bad road to begin with. It was snowing. There were tons of evacuees on it. I mean a fatality was going to happen, regardless. Unfortunately it happened to be my daughter."

The RCMP have not provided an update on their investigation into what caused the crash. Goetz Young said the driver of the truck she collided with was not hurt.

Meanwhile, friends like Macy Jarry are trying to raise money for Goetz Young to help.

"I can't believe one person could be put through so much at such a young age," she said. "So many things going wrong. I don't understand how this could happen."