Vancouver Island couple lucky to be alive as rock slide crushes their truck

Vancouver Island couple lucky to be alive as rock slide crushes their truck

Evening drive around Cowichan Lake turns into nightmare

Rhiannon McCrea and her boyfriend Ryan Tikk are lucky to be alive after disaster struck on an evening ride around Cowichan Lake on a logging road on Vancouver Island on Feb. 3.

McCrea said she and Tikk entered the logging road near Youbou at about 5 p.m. that day in their 2017 GMC Canyon, just days after heavy rain in the area caused a local state of emergency to be called due to the flooding.

RELATED STORY: STATE OF EMERGENCY DECLARED FOR COWICHAN VALLEY AFTER HEAVY RAIN, FLOODING

“Almost half way around the lake, I suggested we turn around and I’d drive back,” McCrea said.

“It was getting dark and I didn’t feel like going the whole way around. All of a sudden, through the darkness, I saw two huge boulders fall. Ryan yelled ‘rock slide, rock slide! Put it in reverse!’. I put the truck in reverse, but before I had a chance to step on the gas, an entire rock slide came down on us, instantly disabling the vehicle. It happened so fast.”

Tikk, who was in the passenger seat, grabbed for McCrea and put her head into his lap to protect her, and then told her to quickly get into the back seat.

“But my legs were stuck under the steering wheel and that was the moment I thought I was going to die,” McCrea said.

“Rocks and trees were falling, smashing our vehicle and thrashing it around. All of the airbags deployed, I managed to get my legs free seconds before the driver’s side windshield and roof caved in. I got into the fetal position in the back seat, and Ryan climbed on top of me. I was closing my eyes, screaming and crying that I didn’t want to die.”

McCrea said she remembers the smell of the broken rocks, the sound of glass shattering and what sounded like bombs going off, and then there was silence.

The couple then realized they had been pushed almost completely off the road.

“It was dark, cold and so scary,” McCrea said.

“Ryan found my cellphone and I dialed 911. I thank my lucky stars we had service. As I was trying to tell the dispatcher our location and what had just happened, another rock slide started. I just remember screaming and crying while I had my head buried down in my arms. I was hysterical and begging for my life. I couldn’t die this way. Not now. Not here. Then it stopped again.”

RELATED STORY: MAN MISSING AFTER AVALANCHE IN B.C.’S PEACE REGION

McCrea said she was on the phone for 37 minutes with 911 and, during that time, she realized her hands were bloody, the vehicle was smoking and her shirt was ripped open, but she doesn’t remember much else.

“About 37 minutes after the first rock slide, we saw red and blue lights,” she said.

“The relief I felt in that moment is indescribable. Two police officers from the Lake Cowichan RCMP detachment ripped open the passenger door and carried me to the ambulance. Firemen from the Youbou fire hall also arrived. I didn’t see it then, but a tree bigger than the cab of the truck fell just feet in front of us.”

McCrae said she spent about seven hours in the trauma room at Cowichan District Hospital and, after numerous tests, it was determined that she had a concussion, whiplash, bone bruises and many other superficial bruises and cuts.

“But, other than that, I was OK,” she said.

“Ryan got a rock to the shin with a minor fracture. The firemen were shocked that we walked away from something so terrible. We were in a lot of pain, I got the worst of it, and he saved my life.”

But McCrae said her body is healing a lot quicker than her mind.

“I’m traumatized but I’m OK. We are so lucky to be alive. I am so very grateful; this could and should have been a lot worse. The truck was completely totalled.”

McCrea said she and Ryan were in the wrong spot at the wrong time.

“I’ll be wary of going down that road again, especially in the winter time,” she said.

“We’re healing right now, but both Ryan and myself intend to start work again soon.”



robert.barron@cowichanvalleycitizen.com

Like us on Facebook and follow us on Twitter

auto accident

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

Just Posted

Kelowna’s Trinity Church will serve as one of the Central Okanagan’s three COVID-19 vaccination clinics. (Trinity Church Kelowna/Instagram)
Three COVID-19 vaccination clinics to open in the Central Okanagan

The first will open at Kelowna’s Trinity Church on March 15

Forty-seven vaccination clinics will open across Interior Health beginning March 15. (Canadian Press)
48 COVID-19 vaccine clinics to open across Interior Health

Select groups can book appointments starting Monday

Vernon’s Jim Cotter (left) and Steve Laycock of Saskatoon will try to rebound Sunday, March 7, at the Tim Hortons Brier Canadian men’s curling championship in Calgary after an opening-game defeat. (Black Press file photo)
Team B.C. bows in Brier opener

New Brunswick uses hammer to score two in 10th end for 7-5 win over Steve Laycock

(Tesla)
New Tesla charging station launches in West Kelowna

This comes after the installation of a Tesla charging station in Kelowna

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

Elvira D’Angelo, 92, waits to receive her COVID-19 vaccination shot at a clinic in Montreal, Sunday, March 7, 2021, as the COVID-19 pandemic continues in Canada and around the world. THE CANADIAN PRESS/Graham Hughes
‘It’s been a good week’: Tam hopeful on vaccines as pandemic anniversary nears

Tam says the addition of two new vaccines will help Canadians get immunized faster

There is no true picture of how many youth in Penticton are experiencing housing instability or true homelessness. The Foundry and the city of Penticton are trying to find that out.
How many youth are experiencing homelessness in Penticton?

Foundry Penticton and the City have partnered on a youth survey open until March 13

Chelsea Ishizuka was borned and raised in Penticton but has now moved to Japan. When she found out there was a popular restaurant there named after Penticton, she had to go check it out. Here she is with the owner (right). (Facebook)
Popular restaurant in Japan named after city of Penticton

A Pentictonite now living in Tokyo discovered the eatery and the history behind its name

Coldstream’s Kalamalka Secondary has teamed up with Globox on a fundraising raffle for its graduating class of 2021. (Photo supplied)
Okanagan secondary school grads glowing over fundraiser

Kalamalka Secondary teams with company on fundraising raffle, replacing annual apple pie fundraiser

(The Canadian Press)
‘Worse than Sept. 11, SARS and financial crisis combined’: Tourism industry in crisis

Travel services saw the biggest drop in active businesses with 31 per cent fewer firms operating

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

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

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

Most Read