B.C. mudslide survivor thought she would die
Flipped car buried in mud, woman crawls out through trunk
A woman who was caught in a landslide east of Vancouver Wednesday said she thought she was going to die as her car was flipped three times across the Trans-Canada Highway by the rushing mud and debris.
"I thought, 'This is it, I am not going to see my children, not going to see my grandson,'" said Deb Herbert on Thursday.
Herbert, 50, said she was driving alone near the Herrling Island exit between Hope and Chilliwack when debris suddenly carried a tree across the highway right in front of her.
"But before I hit the tree, the mud came and got me and it pushed me across the road," she said. "I just held on. I said, 'Oh, my God,' and then I flipped and I flipped and I flipped and then slid, and the trees stopped me from going down the embankment."
After her four-door sedan had stopped moving, the mud kept coming, burying almost all of the vehicle and leaving only the back end exposed.
The two back seats had flipped down in the crash, exposing the trunk, where Herbert saw a little light coming into the car.
"I saw the light and just crawled out through the trunk," the Hope, B.C., resident said.
Picked up by driver
When Herbert got out of the car she tried to head for the exposed asphalt of the highway but the mudslide hadn't stopped.
"It kept knocking me down as I ran," she said.
But she made it to the clear section of highway and was picked up by a woman who had stopped before the slide.
There were concerns about more debris possibly coming down the slope, so the woman acted quickly.
"She threw me in her car and backed down the hill," said Herbert.
The woman took Herbert to a gas station in nearby Hope where she got a coffee — and decided she should buy herself a lottery ticket.
"It is a blessing I am here," she said. "I am thankful I am here for my kids."
Herbert's only injury appears to be some bruising.
"I feel I have a guardian angel. I just feel that someone was watching over me because I don't know how I did that."
Work crews were able to reopen the highway early Thursday.
No other vehicles were hit on the highway, although a CN Rail freight train was also caught in the slide.
Heavy and frequent rain in the area is believed to have made the steep mountain slopes in the area unstable.
The B.C. Transportation Ministry is investigating.
With files from the CBC's Susana da Silva