16-year-old girl killed in Cochrane highway collision was Pikangikum fire evacuee, NAN says

Leaders with the Nishnawbe Aski Nation say a 16-year-old girl who was killed early Wednesday morning in Cochrane, Ont., when she was hit by a vehicle was an evacuee from a northwestern Ontario First Nation threatened by a forest fire.

OPP said Kelsey Strang from Pikangikum was pronounced dead at the scene after first responders were called to a collision on Highway 11 in Cochrane between a vehicle and a pedestrian around 2:30 a.m. on Wednesday.

Later that morning, leaders with the Nishnawbe Aski Nation (NAN), confirmed that Strang was one of the over 200 people sent to the northeastern Ontario town as part of evacuation efforts because of a wildfire that started on May 29 and has been burning just kilometres away from the fly-in First Nation.

“Devastating news out of Cochrane, Ontario this morning. A young evacuee from Pikangikum lost her life after being struck by a vehicle,” NAN Grand Chief Alvin Fiddler tweeted Wednesday morning.

“Our hearts go out to her family, Chief Amanda Sainnawap and all members of the community.”

Nishnawbe Aski Nation represents 49 First Nations in Ontario’s far north, including Pikangikum.

Some evacuees have started returning home.

Derek Fox, a deputy grand chief with NAN told CBC News they were quickly notified about Strang’s death. Fox called it “a tragedy.”

“I feel for the parents especially, the immediate family of the young girl and the community as a whole,” Fox said. “Just to lose a young person in this way, I’m at a loss for words.”

“It’s extremely devastating.”

Fox said that a NAN crisis team is helping the family and that he’s awaiting further direction from Pikangikum’s leadership for what other support may be required.

Provincial police say they continue to investigate the collision that killed Strang.

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