Former students die in hostel fire while traveling in Chile

Katie Longworth recalls memories of her sister Emily; memorial to be held in Vancouver Saturday

Emily Longworth, left, ArtsSci ’03 and Lauren Kipic, right, met at Queen’s, where Lauren was an exchange student.
Emily Longworth, left, ArtsSci ’03 and Lauren Kipic, right, met at Queen’s, where Lauren was an exchange student.
Supplied by the Longworth Family

Katie Longworth remembers playing games in the backseat with her sister Emily for four hours on
end during their family road trips.

“We would laugh about that with my mom,” she said. “She was like, ‘I was kind of sick of it, but
you were occupied in the car so I didn’t want to make you stop.’ ”

Longworth said Emily, her younger sister by three years, had a passion for travel and adventure.
“We would get phone calls from her and we would know, generally, where she was but she was in so many places,” Katie said. “I enjoyed traveling, as well, but she was definitely the traveller in our family.”

It was while Emily was travelling with her friend Lauren Kipic on a trek around Latin America that
she died in an electric fire in a Chilean hostel.

The Santiago Times reported that the fire broke out in the Blue House II hostel in Punta Arenas, Chile, at 2:30 a.m. Feb. 3. Within 30 minutes, the two-storey structure had partially collapsed.
The fire killed eight other people. Emily majored in linguistics at Queen’s and spent a year studying
at the International Study Centre in Herstmonceux, England. She graduated from Queen’s in the spring of 2003 with an honours degree. She was 25. Linguistics professor Greg Lessard said Emily wasn’t in many of his courses, but he remembers her as the girl with a “quiet smile.”

She volunteered at the International Centre as an education abroad assistant in 2001-02 and 2002-03.
Katie said Emily’s experience at the castle sparked her love for travel, which she deepened in her interactions with international students at the International Centre back at Queen’s.

“She did her first year at the castle and I think that was the biggest influence on her life,” Katie said. “She got really involved with the international students when she came back to Queen’s. … I think
her experience getting involved with international students really helped her have a focus, and she
loved that.” Kipic, a student from the University of New South Wales in Australia, came to Queen’s on
exchange in fall 2001. Emily met Kipic at Queen’s when they were both in their third year. Since then, the two of them have travelled to more than 20 countries, Katie said.

“It’s very weird, like, I didn’t really know Lauren—I had met her several times, I didn’t really know her,” Katie said. “I’m actually getting to know her a lot better now.
“It’s really strange.”

Katie and Emily both shared a love of running, Katie said, and the day before Emily left in October,
the two of them went for a run in Lighthouse Park, near their family home in Vancouver.

“It was definitely part of Emily’s and my life in Vancouver,” she said. “I’ve seen an eagle, I think,
every day since we heard the news. Just yesterday we were out in Lighthouse Park, we were at a place
called Eagle Point. There were 24 eagles in the trees all around the little bay. “This summer I was up in
the Queen Charlotte Islands and I had bought Emily a necklace with a Haida design of an eagle on it. I’m not sure what I feel about spirituality or whatever, but … 24 eagles is a lot of eagles in one place.
“I felt kind of like there’s something going on with Emily’s eagles.” The two women were cremated
on Monday and their ashes were returned to their families.The Longworth family has set up the Emily Longworth “New Teachers’ Creative Activities” Fund in her memory. They’re holding a celebration
of Emily’s life on Saturday at the Rocky Mountaineer Railway Station in Vancouver. “It’s actually in a train station, which we thought was pretty appropriate,” Katie said. “It’s going to be more of a party than anything else.” Katie said she knows Emily was doing what she loved.

“We really know she was doing what she wanted to do she was having the time of her life and I guess it’s just, it’s a little hard to think about the things she won’t have gotten to do and the things we’ll miss.
“I’m not sad—it’s almost a selfish sadness; there’s stuff I know we’ll miss.”

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