PINE RIDGE, S.D. (AP) — An advocate for the poor in California who made trips to South Dakota’s Pine Ridge Indian Reservation to help people there has died in a vehicle crash in Wyoming.
Thomas Streicher, 58, lost control of his van on an icy Interstate 80 Friday while returning from Pine Ridge to his home in Nevada City, Calif. The Highway Patrol said Streicher was thrown from the van when it rolled and died en route to a hospital.
In Nevada City, Streicher handed out food vouchers to the homeless and served hot meals through his nonprofit, Divine Spark. He began making several trips a year to Pine Ridge starting in 2002, after meeting someone from the reservation and learning about its struggles with poverty.
Regina Brave, 72, of Oglala, told the Rapid City Journal that Streicher once brought her a sewing machine, and he brought one of her family members a crib mattress. For Thanksgiving, Streicher would fill his van with turkeys.
“He had all the seats taken out and he loaded it as much as he could with clothing, fabrics, furniture,” she said.
Streicher traveled 1,250 miles each way when making deliveries to the reservation. The Lakota Sioux gave him something he didn’t find anywhere else, said his daughter, Kristie Streicher.