‘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

Kukpi7 (Chief) Judy Wilson of the Neskonlith Band had words of praise for the consultation between her people and the Ministry of Transportation and Infrastructure on an ongoing highway project. (Black Press file photo)
Collaboration on Shuswap highway project receives national award

Neskonlith Chief Judy Wilson says expansion will open new economic opportunities for the band

A dose of COVID-19 vaccine is prepared at a vaccination clinic in Montreal’s Olympic Stadium on Tuesday, Feb. 23, 2021. THE CANADIAN PRESS/Paul Chiasson
39 new cases of COVID-19 in Interior Health region

The total number of cases in the region since the pandemic began is now at 7,334

Chase RCMP have been focusing during February on prohibited drivers and stolen vehicles in the North Shuswap. (File photo)
RCMP crack down on prohibited drivers in North Shuswap

Help from community aids with arrests in Anglemont and Scotch Creek

Work on replacement of the Solsqua-Sicamous bridge is underway. (File Photo)
Solsqua-Sicamous Bridge work on pace for June 2021 completion

Replacement of the 100-year-old span began last August.

Craig Gruden, (Little) Donny Kleinfelder, (Big) Donny Kleinfelder, Dale Kristensen, Dave Schwandt, Alyssa Schwandt, Tristan Schwandt and Angela Kirstein will feature in Backroad Truckers, a Barriere-based History channel series. (CORUS Entertainment photo)
Shuswap auto recycler breaks out of Rust Valley for Backroad Truckers

White Lake’s Dave Schwandt joins Big Donny Kleinfelder on new History Channel series

NorKam secondary student Karis Wilson in the outfit that got her sent home from school on Feb. 23, 2021
Black Press Media Weekly Roundup: Top headlines this week

Here are the stories that made waves in the Okanagan-Shuswap

Staff from the Marine Mammal Rescue Centre, passersby, RCMP and Nanaimo Fire Rescue carried a sick 300-kilogram steller sea lion up the steep bluff at Invermere Beach in north Nanaimo in an attempt to save the animal’s life Thursday. (Photo courtesy Marine Mammal Rescue Centre)
300-kilogram sea lion muscled up from B.C. beach in rescue attempt

Animal dies despite efforts of Nanaimo marine mammal rescue team, emergency personnel and bystanders

Gina Adams as she works on her latest piece titled ‘Undying Love’. (Submitted photo)
‘Toothless’ the kitty inspires B.C. wood carver to break out the chainsaw

Inspired by plight of a toothless cat, Gina Adams offers proceeds from her artwork to help animals

B.C. Finance Minister Selina Robinson presents bill to delay B.C.’s budget as late as April 30, and allow further spending before that, B.C. legislature, Dec. 8, 2020. (Hansard TV)
How big is B.C.’s COVID-19 deficit? We’ll find out April 20

More borrowing expected as pandemic enters second year

The first of 11 Dash 8 Q400 aircraft's have arrived in Abbotsford. Conair Group Inc. will soon transform them into firefighting airtankers. (Submitted)
Abbotsford’s Conair begins airtanker transformation

Aerial firefighting company creating Q400AT airtanker in advance of local forest fire season

Arrow Lakes Caribou Society said the new caribou pen near the Nakusp Hotsprings is close to completion. (Submitted)
Maternity caribou pen near Nakusp inches closer to fruition

While Nakusp recently approved the project’s lease, caribou captures are delayed due to COVID-19

BC Housing has proposed that the emergency winter shelter at Victory Church at 352 Winnipeg Street be extended as a shelter until March 31, 2022. It was originally intended to be open until April 1, 2021. (Jesse Day - Western News)
One more year of ‘temporary’ homeless shelter in Penticton?

BC Housing has applied to extend Victory Church as a shelter for those experiencing homelessness

Parkview Elementary Kindergarten student Siddhalee Martselos was among many students and staff at the school participating in the Pink Shirt Day anti-bullying event on Feb. 24. (Parkview Elementary/Facebook)
In Photos: Parkview Elementary’s many shades of Pink Shirt Day

Many students and staff at the school dressed up for the annual anti-bullying day.

The Canada Revenue Agency says there were 32 tax fraud convictions across the country between April 2019 and March 2020. (Pixabay)
Vancouver man sentenced to 29 months, fined $645K for tax evasion, forgery

Michael Sholz reportedly forged documents to support ineligible tax credits linked to homeownership

Most Read