Celebrating the life of a ‘trailblazer’
Seven-year-old girl was killed by a rock slide while hiking near Lions Bay
Seven-year-old Erin Kate Moore left this world the same way she came into it — outdoors, under the sky, and with the wind on her face.
Hundreds of family members and friends from the Sea to Sky communities of Furry Creek and Lions Bay, and from overseas, packed a school in West Vancouver on the weekend to remember a little girl — a trailblazer — who loved to hike, wear sparkly clothes and swing from the monkey bars.
Erin, who would have turned eight this month, died in a rock slide on Dec. 22, while on a hike with her mother and brother near Lions Bay.
At the Mulgrave School on Saturday afternoon, large photographs of Erin lined the hall, most showing her playing outdoors with the sun shining on her cherub face. In all of them, she’s wearing a huge grin and either hot pink mittens or some other bright colour, of which she was so fond.
She didn’t like dark colours, so her family had asked that people not wear the traditional black mourning attire and wear colourful clothes instead to the celebration of her life on Saturday.
Many did, painting the rows of seats with their lime green coats, turquoise scarves, and pink striped sweaters. Kids, many of whom were Erin’s friends, were dressed in leggings of every colour of the rainbow.
Erin was described by her parents, who are originally from South Africa, as a force of nature, a bright spark who loved sports, being outdoors and being in the company of her brother Cameron. She would often go out on a freezing winter day in nothing but shorts and a T-shirt.
They asked that people remember the joy their daughter brought and to take home Erin’s own life lessons.
“Be in the moment — celebrate the here and now,” and “Be a trailblazer — red high heels sparkle with shorts and a T-shirt,” read some of her final words on a pamphlet handed out to guests.
Erin, who was a second-grader at the French Ecole Pauline Johnson in Lions Bay, was born under the sky in a parking lot at a hospital in Cambridge, England, and died under the same sky, trekking in the outdoors, one of her favourite pastimes.
Her mother, Elizabeth Moore, said when her daughter was hit with the boulders there was a moment of consciousness, and Erin raised her arm in triumph as she had done each time she climbed a mountain, “almost as if to say I got this mountain.”
In her short time here, she had hiked more places in the world than most people do in a lifetime.
“She had an amazing, almost eight, action-packed years. ... She was very feisty, very independent, but a very strong child.”
Even though she had asthma, Erin loved running and would skip ahead of everyone and say, “Catch me if you can.” Moore recalled how after an operation to have part of her kidney removed, her little “trailblazer” was back outside playing the next day.
“She got up, she stood up, she walked on and she fought forward,” she said, adding Erin was a free spirit who “taught us how to live in the here and now.”
Erin’s dad Michael Moore, whose father, a reverend by the same name, read the prayer, said he doesn’t know why God took his little girl, and can find no reason for the greater good. But he said he does believe in God and that his daughter is in heaven.
“She was my bubble of joy,” he said. “She was the warmest, cuddliest creature imaginable. ... Her infectious giggles would turn a room into laughter,” he said. “She had an intuition beyond her years.”
Moore joked how he always told Erin and her brother that when they grew up and moved away from home, he and their mother would track them down and move next door.
“Wherever Erin is now, I will find her. And I will move in next door,” he said.
“In the meantime, I know that she has found the monkey bars and will be swinging with joy.”
Erin and her family were part of a group of 20 people hiking on Unnecessary Mountain when some of the kids walked across a boulder that gave way. Erin was struck by rocks and boulders and buried in the debris of the ensuing slide.
A ground team was dispatched from Lions Bay and a helicopter team flew in from North Shore Rescue.
Moore’s family and the other hikers, which included four nurses, worked desperately to pull the boulders away and free the girl. They performed CPR, and a defibrillator and oxygen were used in an attempt to save her life.
Erin’s father arrived at the scene during rescue efforts, but his daughter had succumbed to her injuries.
Lions Bay Mayor Karl Buhr, a close family friend, described Erin as a “lovely little girl, tough as nails. She could do anything.”