Boy who died in rollover near Yellow Quill heralded as hero
Nine-year-old who died in crash along with sister and mother helped save other siblings, source says
The young boy who died along with his sister and mother when their minivan rolled into a slough on Yellow Quill First Nation, Sask., is being remembered as a hero.
While nine-year-old Josh Machiskinic did not survive the crash, he managed to help two of his siblings escape with their lives, his teacher says.
"He will go down in my books as a hero for saving his family," said Amanda Roberts, a teacher who taught Josh and his eight-year-old sister Hannah.
On Monday, a minivan carrying Barbara Bluecloud, 36, and four of her children rolled near Yellow Quill into water, a relative confirmed. Bluecloud, Josh and Hannah died in the accident. Passersby who jumped into the water helped Josh's 10-year-old brother and a four-year-old sister to safety.
The victims were the family of Yellow Quill Chief Jonathan Machiskinic.
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"They sure were smart, little, kind kids," Andrea Moosewaypayo, another of Bluecloud's children, wrote in a Facebook message.
"They loved my daughter so much. Nothing but memories come to mind."
The family was on the way to school when the crash happened. It was raining outside, Roberts said, and they were driving on a gravel road. The cause of the rollover has not been determined.
Deaths a 'huge loss'
Both of the children who died attended Nawigizigweyas Education Centre, the reserve's school. Their mother was the school cook.
Roberts said the school will never be the same. It has been closed since Monday.
"This is a huge huge loss for the school. She's [Bluecloud's] a monumental part of the school," she said.
Roberts had a special affection for Hannah. She was a quiet girl, Roberts said, and the two would often spend time after class playing make-believe. Roberts said Hannah would play the teacher and she would play the student.
"She was extremely special. She had a presence about her," Roberts said.
"When you would bend down to give her a hug, she would just look up at you and smile immensely. She was a wonderful, wonderful little girl."
Community resilient, says teacher
Roberts said the community is in mourning but is also coming together in the wake of the tragedy. On Wednesday, people in Yellow Quill made pizzas for the grieving family.
Roberts, who is originally from Ontario, said seeing the resilience of the First Nation is inspiring.
"They are just full of love and commitment. I just believe they will come together and support these children," she said.
Funerals are scheduled for later this week.
Crash being investigated
The investigation is ongoing with the assistance of an RCMP collision reconstructionist.
A dive crew was sent out to the crash site. One diver said the slough where the vehicle was submerged was about 1.5 metres deep.
Yellow Quill is 240 kilometres east of Saskatoon.
With files from The Canadian Press