British Columbia

Friends mourn West Vancouver couple who died when tree crashed through their roof

Police say the incident was "extremely likely" due to heavy wind that evening.

Mike Sharp and Caroline Helbig were active retirees who loved travel and hockey

Mike Sharp and Caroline Helbig were both retired and living in Horseshoe Bay. (Michael Sharp via Facebook )

Friends of a husband and wife who died when a tree fell on their West Vancouver home Sunday are remembering their work in the community and beyond. 

The couple have been identified by friends as Mike Sharp, 69, and Caroline Helbig, 60. 

"It was beyond words, it was a genuine shock to the system… no one can believe it," said Perry Braun, who played hockey with Sharp and was a close friend of the family. 

Braun described Sharp and Helbig as welcoming, generous, knowledgeable and well travelled. 

"In our last game together, [Sharp] paid for everyone's beer in the dressing room. He's just that kind of generous, generous person."

Braun said Sharp had started an initiative during the COVID-19 pandemic called Feed the Need, where he helped raise and match $300,000 for seniors in his community.

Sharp and Helbig, who were both retired, travelled extensively with their son, according to Braun. Helbig was a travel writer who had written for publications such as the Globe and Mail.

Braun said she was a big supporter of her 24-year-old son, Alexander Sharp, and his sporting pursuits. 

"She was an enthusiastic hockey mom and just loved the game." 

Braun said Sharp always had excellent book selections for their book club, and added depth to their conversations.

"He had an extraordinary, rich life. Both of them did," said Braun.

Sharp, who was a former coach and president of the West Vancouver Minor Hockey Association, was also the goaltender of a Wednesday night hockey league. 

Mike Sharp (pictured standing second from the left) was a former hockey coach and played on a Wednesday night beer league. (Michael Sharp via Facebook)

Patrick Hogan, who was a friend of Sharp's for over 20 years and played in the same hockey league, said Mike was their most reliable goaltender. 

"Mike was sort of the unofficial mayor of the locker room… he would be out there first and leave last," said Hogan.

Hogan said Mike was a positive influence who would check on team members regularly and take active steps to make sure everybody was well. 

"He loved his wife Caroline, we looked forward to his travel stories," said Hogan. 

Hogan said their team is in discussion about creating a hockey scholarship in Mike's name.

Braun, who is also a member of their hockey league, said it will be tough not to see Mike when they play on Wednesday. 

"Life isn't sweet today, but there are days that make life worth living… We'll miss them but you have to enjoy every day."

With files from Zahra Premji and Janella Hamilton