LaSalle, Ont., woman killed in Bahamas by Hurricane Dorian
'You can't say a bad word about her,' says one of Alishia Liolli's friends
A 27-year-old woman originally from southwestern Ontario was among the people killed in the Bahamas amid this week's widespread devastation from Hurricane Dorian.
Family members had asked on social media earlier this week for news of Alishia Liolli and her family, who lived in Marsh Harbour, on the Bahamas' Abaco Islands.
A later post said her husband and children were safe, but that Liolli "died before help arrived."
Liolli was born and raised in LaSalle, a community of about 30,000, south of Windsor.
"Alishia is one of those people that you regard as an angel," David LaDuca, a friend of Liolli's told CBC News. "She was compassionate and loving, always reaching out to other people."
Liolli graduated from Toronto's Ryerson University, where she got involved with the Every Child Counts (EEC) school program in the Bahamas.
ECC, a school for students with special needs, posted confirmation of Liolli's death on its Hurricane Dorian disaster relief Facebook page.
Liolli ran the school's Starfish Enterprises program, which helps adults with disabilities contribute to society, providing basic academics, social skills and careers training.
"Alishia was so taken by [ECC] that she applied to work there," said LaDuca. While working for ECC, Liolli met her husband and they had one son together.
"She's easygoing. She's always willing to go with the flow, with a smile on her face," said LaDuca. "Very caring and nurturing. All the students loved her. You can't say a bad word about her."
Longtime friend Alysha Cardinale-Soderberg met Liolli in Grade 4 and they were classmates through high school.
"The bond that we had was more than friends," she said.
Cardinale-Soderberg said that when she heard about Liolli's death, she thought: "This feels like someone's sick joke. This doesn't feel real.
"We're like sisters. We had that relationship where we could just walk into each other's houses and hang out with the family ... even if she wasn't there."
This feels like someone's sick joke. This doesn't feel real. - Alysha Cardinale-Soderberg
Cardinale-Soderberg was texting with Liolli the day the hurricane hit, but then Abaco lost power and Cardinale-Soderberg's messages stopped going through.
"[Her mom and I] were just looking everywhere for information on her," she said.
Liolli was in Windsor in August and they went to a Detroit Tigers game with their children.
"The day before she left, I asked her to be my bridesmaid," said Cardinale-Soderberg. "We hugged and said our goodbyes."
According to Facebook, Liolli was the coach of the Special Olympics Bahamas 2017 bocce team.
Liolli's family has asked they be left alone to grieve, but gave permission for family friend Tony Lucchino to speak on their behalf.
Lucchino said Liolli's family is in contact with the federal government and Canada's embassy in the Bahamas in an attempt to retrieve Liolli's body.
"I know they're struggling with the government to get all the help they can to get the body back," said Lucchino. "It's probably chaos right there now with hospitals and things like that."
He added that the family is working on returning Liolli's 17-month-old son to Canada.
"He was born in Canada, he's Canadian, so they want to get him back here, away from all the devastation that's going on there right now," Lucchino said.
This video, posted by ECC in June, shares Liolli's passion and vision for the Starfish program.