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Tributes paid to West Vancouver couple killed in tragic tree fall

Victims identified in what police are calling a 'tragic accident'

Friends and colleagues are paying tribute to the Gleneagles couple killed in a tragic tree fall incident early Sunday morning.

At approximately 1:30 a.m., a large tree fell onto the home of Mike Sharp and Caroline Helbig. First responders were called to the 6200 block of Wellington Avenue and confirmed the deaths of two residents inside.

Mike served as president of the West Vancouver Minor Hockey Association until 2015 and was a regular player in the local adult league. The hockey association posted a tribute to him on social media, Sunday.

“We are in shock. Mike was a selfless leader and a true gentleman,” the message read.

Apart from being a devoted mom, Helbig is being remembered by friends as a prolific volunteer and community activist with a love of figure skating. She taught English to new Canadians on the North Shore, working hard to make them feel welcome.

She was a freelance writer and editor who kept a widely read travel blog dubbed Writes of Passage, and had her pieces run in major publications.

“She loved coming home full of mud and rain and snow. She was an incredibly elegant, beautiful woman and at the same time, just full of adventure,” said close friend Shannon Stewart.

She also volunteered editing the newsletter from her mother’s long-term care home and taking seniors to the rink for skating.

The loss of Helbig and Sharp is deeply impacting their tight-knight circle, Stewart said.

“They lived life to the fullest. They were committed, happy, joyful, passionate people who brought the community together and did amazing service work,” Stewart said.

West Vancouver Mayor Mary-Ann Booth, who knew the couple, issued a statement on Monday, paying tribute to them.

“This terrible accident has taken two valued community members away from us. It is such a shock to us all. I first met Michael a decade ago when he was president of the WV Minor Hockey Association. He was advocating for earlier ice times for his teenage players, and he was effective, smart and caring,” she said. “Michael and Caroline will be deeply missed. On behalf of council, I would like to convey my heartfelt condolences to their son, their family, their friends, and their hockey community.”

The West Vancouver Police Department has now turned the investigation over to the BC Coroners Service.

“This appears to be a tragic accident,” stated Const. Kevin Goodmurphy in a release. “We are supporting the [coroner] as they conduct their investigation into the circumstances surrounding the loss of life. … Our thoughts are with the family and friends of the deceased.”

The couple is survived by their son, who is in his 20s.

West Vancouver spokeswoman Donna Powers said municipal staff are now assisting with the coroner’s investigation.

“We’ve had all of our crews on the site there,” she said. “Depending on what that outcome is, there could be further actions but it’s too early to say.”

According to Environment and Climate Change Canada, winds were recorded gusting up to 98 kilometres per hour at West Vancouver’s Point Atkinson weather station that night.