April 02, 2015 - 1:07 PM
KAMLOOPS - While authorities are still investigating how and why a woman was set on fire early Tuesday morning in a Kamloops park — and later died in hospital — people close to her say it was a pagan ritual gone wrong.
The Uji Feature Garden rock formation, where the woman was found, remains blocked off at Riverside Park. The scene has been dealt with by all involved agencies. The B.C. Coroners Service continues its investigation into the strange circumstances but has confirmed the woman was 40-year-old Heather Arlene Carr of Kamloops. In a release Thursday afternoon the coroner service also said it appeared she had set the blaze and then ended up in it accidentally.
Police have said little about the case, other than they were called to the park around 2 a.m. The woman was found in the middle of the art installation, a collection of boulders. It appears she removed one near the top and climbed between the larger rocks. It’s not clear if she was on fire when police arrived but the fire was out when firefighters arrived, says Kamloops Fire Rescue Deputy Chief Les Noel.
"Someone must have heard her and came to her aid,” he said.
Firefighters managed to pull her out, adding the woman was still conscious after the blaze and cooperated with rescuers. She died in hospital a few hours later.
RCMP spokesperson Cpl. Cheryl Bush says police were called to the park for a report of a suicidal person. But Coroner Barb McLintock said Tuesday it was too early to tell if it was suicide.
On April 1, Carr's husband took to a Facebook group to say the woman "passed away... from severe burns suffered in a ritual gone horrifically wrong.”
You’ve probably seen Carr around town; she often wore an ankle-length black cape made from velvet-like material. Last year, the mother of two started and moderated a Facebook group called ‘Being Pagan Out of the Broom Closet’ and attracted 157 members.
On March 12, she wrote: “There are no coincidences. Everything happens for a reason even if you don’t understand why in the moment and even if that moment is painful. It is all experiences meant to teach us and for us to learn from.”
While the bizarre scene in the park may have reinforced the police notion it was suicide, it was nothing out of the ordinary to some people who knew her. It was not a suicide, they said.
A friend of the victim, who requested to remain anonymous, said she often held shamanic rituals in the early morning hours, occasionally in public places. Kindling and burned pieces of wood remained on the scene Wednesday.
On the Pagan calendar, March 30 is marked to observe the goddess Salus.
She likely had candles as well, the friend says, but Chief Noel said if they were there, they were melted and gone—none were found. Her friend says her cape was made of flammable synthetic fibres and supposes it accidentally caught fire in the confined space.
“It looks like it could have possibly been a ritual that just ended up going wrong,” he said. "Any time she’s done that kind of stuff it’s always been safe.... It was always done in an open area, it was never in an enclosed area. That’s what’s strange about the whole thing.”
City officials blocked off the sculpture in the park Tuesday and Wednesday, in part to clean dry chemical residue, likely from a fire extinguisher, from the rocks. Three firefighters who retrieved her from the rocks were briefly treated at Royal Inland Hospital for inhaling the chemicals.
Noel expects the blockade will be removed soon.
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News from © InfoTel News Ltd, 2015