Tragic tornado leaves grief in Westman

Two Melita youth were killed in the Scarth tornado

The tornado that came down in the Scarth area 16 kilometres south of Virden last Friday night claimed the lives of two motorists on Highway 83, injured a third motorist and devastated a farmer’s yard. A memorial fund has been started in honour of the Melita youth, Shayna Barnesky and Carter Tilbury, who died in the tornado that night.

The truck they were in was picked up and carried over a kilometre away into a field, they were ejected from the vehicle by the EF2 tornado winds which were estimated at 190 kms/hr.

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They were just 18, Shayna having just graduated from Gr. 12. She had decided to work for a year before furthering her education. Carter was already working for the Enns Brothers John Deere dealership, but had planned to study mechanics.

On social media there has been an outpouring of grief and condolences for the loss of these two young people. Friends and relatives throughout southwest Manitoba have expressed their concern for the families, some sharing precious memories of both Carter and Shayna, who were a dating couple.

Gloria Vanbeselaere, through Facebook, has announced a memorial fund in their honour:

“In response to so many community members, family and friends who would like to be able to do something for the families of Shayna and Carter… a memorial fund has been set up at the Sunrise Credit Union where you may donate in person, by phone or etransfer at or”

Storm survivor, 54-year-old James Blacksmith of Sioux Valley was found in his vehicle by storm chasers moments after his SUV was thrown into the ditch.

Virden RCMP and Wallace District Fire Department attended; Blacksmith was taken to hospital.

To escape the storm, Blacksmith, fearing for his life, had pulled into the nearby farmyard of Giovanni Colangelo, but the powerful tornado also tossed his vehicle.

He said in an interview with media that he is troubled, remembering the white pick-up truck that pulled in behind him and then disappeared.

No further information on Blacksmith’s condition was made available to the Empire-Advance at press time.

Private family services will be held at a later date for Shayna Barnesky and Carter Tilbury who are described as “best friends”.

© Virden Empire-Advance