The scene of a major mudslide in the Kootenay Pass on Victoria Day that led to a dramatic rescue of an injured couple in a vehicle led by a man from Vernon. (Dan Anderson/For the Vernon Morning Star)

Vernon man recounts intense rescue of couple caught in mudslide

Something told Dan Anderson to go back to the scene of a major mudslide on the long weekend.

Something told Dan Anderson to go back to the scene of a major mudslide on the long weekend when others turned away.

Anderson, a Vernon man who was travelling through the Kootenay Mountain Pass for work, was interrupted when he came across the mudslide that nearly killed a Saskatchewan couple.

Related: Couple survives being buried in mudslide on B.C. highway

Upon first look, it seemed to just be an inconvenience. Cars ahead of him turned around and left the scene. Eventually, it was just Anderson and one other man who had stopped to take a picture of the debris-covered road. Anderson said that this compelled him to do the same — something, he says, he wouldn’t instinctually do.

He said it was then that he heard a faint call for help.

“It was way in the distance and it was quite noisy with the water and the rain. It was one of the worst things I’ve ever seen,” he said as he reflected on the violent event on Victoria Day.

He said he called for the other man to come help and the two of them climbed through the wreckage trying to locate the voices. Eventually, they spotted each other. The voices belonged to a couple, Sheri Niemegeers and Gabe Rosescu.

“It was one of the grossest things I’ve ever seen,” says Anderson. “He had several head injuries and his forehead was all opened up. She had a severely broken ankle and could barely stand up.”

They decided to make their way to the other side of the slide, closer to Castlegar side and away from their cars because the path seemed clearer.

“There were fewer trees to crawl through,” he said.

Using trees for leverage, the four of them slowly made their way up the side of the mountain, calling for help. It came. A row of people helped carry Niemegeers to safety and both victims were driven to hospital.

“That’s the last I saw of them that day,” says Anderson. “I went down to the hospital in Kelowna yesterday to visit [Rosescu].”

Anderson said Rosescu was doing well, though he has no recollection of the event. Niemegeers was in hospital in Trail seeking treatment for her ankle.

“I don’t feel I did anything different than any of you would have done,” Anderson wrote in a Facebook post. “I think it’s built into all of us to react to help one another and that’s the one thing that fear can’t win over.”

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The scene of a major mudslide in the Kootenay Pass on Victoria Day that led to a dramatic rescue of an injured couple in a vehicle led by a man from Vernon. (Dan Anderson/For the Vernon Morning Star)

The scene of a major mudslide in the Kootenay Pass on Victoria Day that led to a dramatic rescue of an injured couple in a vehicle led by a man from Vernon. (Dan Anderson/For the Vernon Morning Star)

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