In the wake of a tragedy that rocked Sooke, the community is coming together to show support for the families of the three young men who lost their lives on Friday night.
The men died when the pickup truck they were riding in was engulfed in water during unprecedented flooding near the lower parking lot of the Sooke Potholes.
It’s believed the men travelled to the spot late Friday night to see the high water and were swept into the Sooke River.
A GoFundMe page has been established to help address the financial burden facing the three families, and by Wednesday morning about $20,000 was raised.
Lesley Baker, who launched the page, is also organizing a bottle drive on March 14.
The funds raised by the bottle will establish a scholarship for Edward Milne Community School students in the names of Cory Mills, Eric Blackmore and Anthony (A.J.) Jensen, the three men who lost their lives in the accident.
Another fundraising effort will take place Feb. 15 when residents will gather at Langford’s Westshore Town Center for a Cruise for a Cause, a drive along the Port Renfrew loop. It’s an idea organized by Kaden McKenzie, Tyler Rickman, Josh Nelson, Calvin Vosbrugh, and Hunter Burket, of Sooke.
Participants will gather at 8 a.m. to express their support and grief through their participation in the drive that plans to depart at 9 a.m.
Stickers and other material will be for sale and donations for the families of the lost men will also be taken.
Another initiative, organized by Sooke resident Kristel Blank , is a Meal Train. The intent is to help relieve some of the stress being felt by the families by providing the meals that they will require in the days ahead. Although the dates for providing meals were quickly filled, there is still the possibility of donating a gift card to the families.
“The level of community support has been just amazing. When we were organizing the search there were 120 people there at 6:30 a.m. and that numbers grew to over 300. It just shows the kind of community we have,” Eric Blackmore’s father, William McInnes said.
“I was told about one elderly man, walking with a cane, who was walking down West Coast Road, trying to do what he could. That’s the kind of community Sooke is.”
McInnis said the community continues to be supportive now and that those efforts are helping the families cope with the tragedy.
His feelings were echoed by Jodie Gunter, a close friend of A.J. Jensen’s family.
“Everyone did the best they could and continue to do what they can after this happened. That’s the kind of community we live in,” Gunter said.