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Elaho River claims life of popular Squamish teen

Hundreds of mourners came to pay their respects today and salute the bravery of a Squamish teen who died last week in a river rafting accident.

During a Girl Guides rafting trip Saturday with Elaho River Adventures a raft flipped in the churning waters of the Elaho River.

Alison Roberge, 17, chose to wait in the water while a safety kayaker took two younger girls who were having trouble. Roberge's lifeless body was found trapped in log debris when the safety kayaker returned to get her.

Roberge, a junior Girl Guides leader, had been with the organization for years.

In all there were 14 girls, aged 13-15 years old, in two rafts, each of which had a guide. There was also a safety kayaker in the water.

The first raft, carrying six girls made it through a stretch of water known as the Devil’s Elbow, but the second hit a rock and flipped.

All were wearing helmets and lifejackets.

It’s not the first time there has been a deadly accident on that stretch of the Elaho. In 1987 five people died when their raft flipped there. That accident and others led to the implementation in 1988 of provincial standards for commercial rafting operations and a training system for guides.

The coroner’s service and the Transportation Safety Board of Canada are both investigating the May 14 accident. At present the RCMP is not contemplating charges.

"You really realize how small your community is when something like this happens and it affects everyone on some level," said RCMP Cpl. Dave Ritchie, whose son was to graduate with Roberge in two weeks.

"Everyone is struggling with it. It is such a loss.

"The family is well known in the community. The mother and father and kids are involved in all sorts of sports and coaching and so on."

Roberge was involved in many volunteer activities in the communities and was a strong student. She had been accepted to study engineering at the University of B.C. but had recently decided to study biomedics instead so she could help sick kids.

Roberge leaves behind four siblings as well as her parents and a host of friends.

She was buried in the red prom dress her mother made for her graduation.