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

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)
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)

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

Get local stories you won't find anywhere else right to your inbox.
Sign up here

Just Posted

Seniors in the Interior Health region can book their COVID-19 vaccinations starting Monday, March 8, 2021 at 7 a.m. (File photo)
Seniors in Interior Heath region can book COVID-19 shots starting Monday

Starting March 8 the vaccination call centre will be open 7 a.m. to 7 p.m. daily

Mary Clayton testing her ski and avalanche gear. As communications director, Clayton helped create Avalanche Canada into the success it is today. (Liam Harrap - Revelstoke Review)
Inspiring women: It was a men’s world – until Revelstoke’s Mary Clayton broke into it

She helped create Avalanche Canada into the internationally recognized organization it is today

John Hordyk said it isn’t fair to just look at COVID-19 deaths as many survivors are experiencing long-term impacts, himself included. (Photo by Rachel Muise)
Not getting better: Revelstoke man diagnosed with post-COVID-19 syndrome

‘I hope the damage isn’t long term, but it could be permanent’

A member of the Vernon Search and Rescue winch helicopter team pulls a skier who broke her leg at the gorge backcountry area east of Sicamous into the helicopter on Friday March 5. (Shuswap Search and Rescue/Facebook)
Search and rescue helicopter helps injured skier out of Shuswap backcountry

The Salmon Arm woman broke her leg, but was helped out of the bush thanks to radio communication.

Interior Health reported 33 new COVID-19 cases on March 5. (Black Press Files)
Interior Health reports 33 new COVID-19 cases on March 5

Over 300,000 vaccine doses have been administered provincewide.

The James C Richardson Pipe Band marches in a Remembrance Day parade on Nov. 11, 2019 in Chilliwack. Wednesday, March 10 is International Bagpipe Day. (Jenna Hauck/ Chilliwack Progress file)
Unofficial holidays: Here’s what people are celebrating for the week of March 7 to 13

International Bagpipe Day, Wash Your Nose Day and Kidney Day are all coming up this week

Pictures and notes in from friends and classmates make up a memorial in support and memory of Aubrey Berry, 4, and her sister Chloe, 6, during a vigil held at Willows Beach in Oak Bay, B.C., on December 30, 2017. THE CANADIAN PRESS/Chad Hipolito
Mother of slain daughters supports recent changes to Canada’s Divorce Act

Sarah Cotton-Elliott said she believed her children took a back seat to arranging equal parenting

Multiple people were injured at a Vernon home following an early-morning break-in Saturday, March 6, 2021. (Black Press file photo)
Multiple people left injured following break-and-enter in Vernon

Police believe the early-morning break-in was targeted and not a threat to the general public

Isaac Gilbert is running for council in the by-election for Jake Kimberley’s vacated seat. (Submitted)
First candidate for Penticton council by-election makes himself known

Isaac Gilbert is making a second run at council after receiving 19.63 per cent of the vote in 2018

Kelowna General Hospital (File photo)
Second COVID-19 outbreak declared at Kelowna General Hospital

One patient and one staff member on Unit have tested positive for the virus.

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

Victoria man Brett Andersen is asking for people’s help to secure him one of eight free tickets to the moon. (Screenshot/@brettandersen Instagram)
Victoria man wants your help securing a free ticket to the moon

Japanese billionaire offering eight people a trip to the moon

The Conservation Officers Service is warning aquarium users after invasive and potentially destructive mussels were found in moss balls from a pet store. (BC Conservation Officers Service/Facebook)
Aquarium users in B.C. warned after invasive mussels found at pet store

Conservation officers were told the mussels were found in a moss ball from a Terrace pet store.

Most Read