CALGARIA. Last Monday, as floods and landslides hit British Columbia, Dean Hopkins received a phone call from a close friend’s wife saying her husband was missing.
The phone call marked the beginning of several stressful days for Hopkins, which ended in tragedy when his old rugby buddy Stephen Taylor was pronounced dead.
Taylor moved to British Columbia from Calgary about a year ago for construction work, and when his wife lost contact with him as he drove through one of the landslide-affected areas last weekend, she needed help, Hopkins said.
Hopkins rushed into battle to find his missing friend.
“There is not much information during the crisis. And when you have a woman who misses her husband, it’s quite painful if you don’t have family support, ”he said on Sunday.
Hopkins said Taylor was at a work camp north of Vancouver, but the camp was closed due to bad weather. He decided to go home despite the bad roads and called his wife to let her know.
Then there was no more word.
Hopkins began calling Taylor’s colleagues and listened intently to eyewitness accounts of the village that had collapsed south of Lillouet. He called hotels in case they hadn’t seen Taylor. Taylor’s wife filed a missing persons report.
“His cell phone is always taken off when I call him,” Hopkins said. But this time no one raised him.
“As the days went by, hope arose in them,” he said. But then late Wednesday night, the RCMP called Taylor’s wife and said they had found three bodies, and that one of them matched the description she gave them. She immediately broke the news to Hopkins.
Mounties said on Saturday that the bodies of three men were found in a landslide area on Highway 99 between Lillow and Pemberton, on a section of the route known as the Duffy Lake Road. They said the bodies had been recovered within the past week and that they had increased the death toll from the landslide to four.
The woman’s body was found by crews nearby last Monday.
Hopkins, a retired military man, said he lost people he once thought was brothers. But it’s still tricky, and he said the news of Taylor’s death left him “gutted” and sick in the stomach.
“Hundreds if not thousands of friends and rugby players in our city and province will feel the same way. He was that kind of person, ”Hopkins said, noting that Taylor’s wife was desperate.
“There is a difference between losing someone and being snatched from your life in a short time. She is absolutely inconsolable. “
Hopkins said he would be traveling to Vancouver soon to help. He said that in addition to his wife, Taylor had two daughters, two sons and a grandson.
The British Columbia Coroners Service released a statement over the weekend saying it is investigating deaths and, where possible, will make recommendations to prevent similar situations in the future.
TO Rob Drinkwater in Edmonton