‘The whole side started sliding towards us,’: Lake Country man says of rockslide

Area resident Malcolm Hett said he’s glad he moved his van when he did or the damage could have been more substantial. ‘Just a minute before this, I was parked on the opposite side of the road clearing the rocks from the first smaller slide,’ he said. (Malcolm Hett - Facebook)Area resident Malcolm Hett said he’s glad he moved his van when he did or the damage could have been more substantial. ‘Just a minute before this, I was parked on the opposite side of the road clearing the rocks from the first smaller slide,’ he said. (Malcolm Hett - Facebook)
Lake Country resident Malcolm Hett was clearing rocks from Pelmewash Parkway Wednesday, Feb. 3, 2021, when he heard a crack and the rock wall started to slide towards him, damaging his van in the process. (Malcolm Hett - Contributed)Lake Country resident Malcolm Hett was clearing rocks from Pelmewash Parkway Wednesday, Feb. 3, 2021, when he heard a crack and the rock wall started to slide towards him, damaging his van in the process. (Malcolm Hett - Contributed)
Lake Country resident Malcolm Hett was clearing rocks from Pelmewash Parkway Wednesday, Feb. 3, 2021, when he heard a crack and the rock wall started to slide towards him, damaging his van in the process. (Malcolm Hett - Contributed)
Lake Country resident Malcolm Hett was clearing rocks from Pelmewash Parkway Wednesday, Feb. 3, 2021, when he heard a crack and the rock wall started to slide towards him, damaging his van in the process. (Malcolm Hett - Contributed)

It may be the best luck or the worst, but Lake Country resident Malcolm Hett has it.

Hett stopped on his way home from Vernon to clear some rocks off Pelmewash Parkway that had fallen from the rock face along the old highway Wednesday, Feb. 3. But right before the job was done, a second slide happened, blasting his van with “baseball-sized rocks” and spooking his Aussie Shepherd, Ghoulie.

“I came across a pile of rocks, about 10 wheelbarrow loads,” he said, noting it’s not uncommon for two to three rocks to pepper the parkway.

“I wouldn’t want to be the one not paying attention and accidentally drive into that,” he said, adding it’s not the first time he’s stopped to clear the roadway of debris.

Hett was quickly joined by a keen helper, Oyama Coun. Todd McKenzie, who quickly suggested Hett move his van after a sizable rock let loose from above.

“A pretty big rock, about 30-feet behind me, above my van, landed beside it and shattered, spraying up the side of it,” Hett said. “My dog was in the van, shaken up from the impact.”

Hett moved the vehicle to the other side of the street and let Ghoulie out while he and McKenzie continued to clear debris.

But ultimately, it was all for naught.

“We were a few minutes away from calling it good and that’s when we heard the big crack,” he said. “The whole side started sliding towards us.

“We had to act on instinct,” he said. “Luckily, we both had an instinct to run.”

Hett said he has never seen anything like this before.

“Especially not on a well-travelled road,” he said. “I’d expect this sort of thing to maybe happen on a forest service road, but not two minutes from where I live.”

Rocks dumped onto the roadway, denting and dinging his van. Luckily, Hett was able to drive away from the scene an hour or so later, after the District of Lake Country crews cleared some of the debris.

Now, Hett finds himself questioning what work the district had done to assess and mitigate the risk of a rockfall like this when it took over the old highway from the transportation ministry in 2018.

The stability of the rock wall, however, has been a point of conversation for residents for some time, he said.

“It was just a matter of time,” he said. “But that’s relative, a ‘matter of time’ could mean today.”

Hett said he hopes this instance is the only one that needs to occur before more work is done to stabilize the hillside.

“God forbid if someone is walking along the road, or some small car is driving along,” he said.

READ MORE: Rocks pepper Pelmewash Parkway in Lake Country

READ MORE: Crews work to clear rockfall on Lake Country road


@caitleerach
Caitlin.clow@vernonmorningstar.com

Like us on Facebook and follow us on Twitter.

Transportation

Just Posted

Okanagan Mission Secondary volleyball coach Paul Thiessen cheering his team on during the high school AAA playoffs. (Contributed)
OKM volleyball coach a provincial award winner

Paul Thiessen receives BC School Sports Merit Award for 2021-22

The RCMP presence in Central Okanagan public schools is being reviewed by the board of education. (File photo)
RCMP presence welcomed in Central Okanagan public schools

Staff survey feedback overwhelmingly positive from students, staff and parents

Dawn Low is the first female CAO for the City of Revelstoke. (Jocelyn Doll/Revelstoke Review file)
Armstrong welcomes new CAO

Dawn Low previously served as CAO in Revelstoke since 2019

18-year-old skier Logan Leach follows his guide, Julien Petit, down an alpine track. The Lumby athlete who is visually impaired has been named to Alpine Canada’s Ski Team ahead of the 2022 Paralympic Games in Beijing. (Contributed)
Lumby’s Logan Leach named to national ski team

The 18-year-old visually impaired athlete officially joins Canada’s Para-Alpine roster ahead of Beijing 2022

Sovereign Lake Nordic Club is the first ski area in Canada to signify its commitment to ending working poverty, by paying all its staff and contracted workers a living wage. (Contributed)
Vernon ski area first in Canada to pay living wage

Sovereign Lake Nordic Club invests in staff and contracted workers

At an outdoor drive-in convocation ceremony, Mount Royal University bestows an honorary Doctor of Laws on Blackfoot Elder and residential school survivor Clarence Wolfleg in Calgary on Tuesday, June 8, 2021. THE CANADIAN PRESS/Jeff McIntosh
‘You didn’t get the best of me’: Residential school survivor gets honorary doctorate

Clarence Wolfleg receives honorary doctorate from Mount Royal University, the highest honour the school gives out

Denmark’s Christian Eriksen receives medical attention after collapsing during the Euro 2020 soccer championship group B match between Denmark and Finland at Parken stadium in Copenhagen, Saturday, June 12, 2021. (AP Photo/Martin Meissner, Pool)
Denmark soccer player Christian Eriksen collapses during game against Finland

Eriksen was given chest compressions after collapsing on the field during a European Championship

Cannabis bought in British Columbia (Ashley Wadhwani/Black Press Media)
Is it time to start thinking about greener ways to package cannabis?

Packaging suppliers are still figuring eco-friendly and affordable packaging options that fit the mandates of Cannabis Regulations

Members of the Department of Fisheries and Oceans’ Marine Mammal Response Program rescued an adult humpback what that was entangled in commercial fishing gear in the waters off of Entrance Island on Thursday, June 10. (Photo courtesy Marine Mammal Response Program)
Rescuers free humpback ‘anchored’ down by prawn traps off Vancouver Island

Department of Fisheries and Oceans responders spend hours untangling whale

Join Black Press Media and Do Some Good
Join Black Press Media and Do Some Good

Pay it Forward program supports local businesses in their community giving

As stories of the horrors of residential schools circulate after the Tk’emlups te Secwepemc First Nation announced it had located what are believed to be the remains of 215 children, Grand Chief Stewart Phillip of the Union of B.C. Indian Chiefs said he feels a connection with the former students. THE CANADIAN PRESS/Darryl Dyck
2 sides of the same coin: Ex-foster kids identify with residential school survivors

Grand Chief Stewart Phillip says the child welfare system takes Indigenous children from their families

Nathan Watts, a member of the Tseshaht First Nation near Port Alberni, shares his story of substance use, a perspective he said isn’t seen enough. (Photo courtesy of Nathan Watts)
Public shaming, hate perpetuates further substance use: UVic researcher

Longtime addict Nathan Watts offers a user’s perspective on substance use

A person receives a COVID-19 vaccine at a vaccination clinic run by Vancouver Coastal Health, in Richmond, B.C., Saturday, April 10, 2021. THE CANADIAN PRESS/Jonathan Hayward
More than 75% of B.C. adults have 1st dose of COVID vaccine

The federal government has confirmed a boost in the Moderna vaccine will be coming later this month

Most Read