A happy ending of sorts has emerged from the Dec. 21 fatal collision on the Trans-Canada near Rogers Pass.
Investigators learned sometime after the collision that a dog had been travelling in the vehicle, but there was no sign of it at the scene.
Toffee is a Rotweiller-pit bull mix but she looks a lot like a golden Labrador Retriever.
She was apparently ejected from the vehicle and fled into the bushes.
Toffee’s owner Lisa Hawkins lives in Merritt. Her best friend was lost in the crash; Lisa was ‘auntie’ to the two young girls who also died.
When contacted by police, she learned Toffee hadn’t been seen.
She called local animal shelters and Parks Canada, hoping someone had found her. No luck.
Five days later on Boxing Day, Hawkins travelled with her husband to the scene of the incident. Given the traumatic nature of the crash, he expected the worst, but Lisa held faint hope. “I honestly expected her hurt or lying down with a broken back or neck,” she said, “Or maybe just badly injured.”
The crash happened in the mountainous, forested Glacier National Park. Snow banks line the highway. There are no human habitations for miles and miles.
They combed the highway near the scene, whistling and calling out for Toffee. Eventually, they attracted the attention of a Parks employee who assisted.
After about 90 minutes, hope was fading. Suddenly, Toffee emerged from behind a snow bank. “She was jumping and barking like crazy,” Hawkins said.
Toffee had dropped about 5 kilograms, but otherwise looked OK. A vet check in Salmon Arm confirmed there wasn’t anything else wrong. “Not a scratch,” Hawkins said – a small wonder given the terrible impact.
When we spoke on the phone, Hawkins told me Toffee was resting on the floor next to litter-mate Merlin and the family’s giant Schnauzer named Rocky.