Residents of the community called Saranagati Village, a Krishna spiritual community that owns property on Venables Valley Road south of Ashcroft, have confirmed the identities of four people who died in a residence there on Friday, March.
They are Harvey Volaine; his wife Melissa Penner; Melissa’s 10-year-old son Kaylex; and Melissa and Harvey’s seven-year-old son Ay. The boys were students at Desert Sands Community School in Ashcroft.
The BC Coroners Service, working with the assistance of the RCMP and the BC Safety Authority, says foul play has been ruled out and the focus of the investigation is on a suspected occurrence of carbon monoxide gas in the residence. Toxicological examinations are underway with results expected later this week.
On the afternoon of March 24, the Ashcroft RCMP Detachment responded to a request for a wellbeing check at a residence in Venables Valley. On arrival, Ashcroft RCMP officers located four deceased persons inside the home. As a result, the Southeast District Major Crimes Unit (MCU) was called out to assist the Ashcroft Detachment with the investigation.
The scene examination was carried out throughout the weekend, with preliminary findings leading investigators to believe that there was no threat posed to the general public.
The Ashcroft RCMP and Southeast District MCU are working in conjunction with the BC Coroners Service. The Ashcroft Victim Assistance workers are also assisting in this matter.
The Venables community issued a statement on Sunday, asking for “respect and privacy during the process of grieving.”
“This tragedy has deeply impacted family and community members, both adults and children beyond what words can convey,” read the statement.
“We send our most sincere condolences to family members of the deceased in this time of loss.”
A Venables Valley resident told The Journal that many members of the community had gathered, on Saturday afternoon, at the community’s temple to comfort each other and process what had happened. “We’re all in shock,” he said, adding that grief counsellors had been brought in to help residents.
A GoFundMe page has been set up to help with the costs of the funeral services for the family. To donate, go to http://bit.ly/2nlNRqy. All donations will go to the Volaine family.