British Columbia

Parents of 2-year-old daughter, rugby player among those killed in B.C. mudslides

A Vancouver couple travelling home from a weekend getaway to British Columbia's Okanagan have been identified as the latest victims of a fatal mudslide that swept over a B.C. highway Nov. 15.

Anita and Mirsad Hadzic were driving home to Vancouver when they were killed in a mudslide on Highway 99

Anita and Mirsad Hadzic are shown with their daughter in this undated photograph. The couple was killed Nov. 15, 2021, when a mudslide struck the highway they were driving on near Lillooet, B.C. CBC News has blurred the face of the child to protect her privacy. (Submitted by Ali Azodi)

A Vancouver couple travelling home to their toddler and a rugby player originally from Calgary have been identified as among those killed in a mudslide that swept across a B.C. highway last week.

Anita and Mirsad Hadzic were driving home when they were caught in the slide on Highway 99, also known as Duffey Lake Road, south of Lillooet, a town about 250 kilometres northeast of Vancouver.

Family friend Ali Azodi, who said Mirsad was "like a brother," said the couple leave behind a two-year-old daughter. He said the couple had been on their way home from a long-weekend getaway in the Okanagan.

The Duffey Lake slide is one of dozens of mudslides that took out major roads in southwestern British Columbia during a torrential rainstorm last weekend. 

Authorities have recovered a total of four bodies from the debris, while a fifth man remains missing.

'Kind, hardworking and loved'

Two fundraising campaigns have been set up to raise money to care for the couple's daughter. They said the couple had been high school sweethearts.

"Anita and Mirsad were the most wonderful parents ... They were kind, hardworking and loved by so many," one fundraiser read.

"This devastating loss is felt by so many who loved them dearly," said the other.

Rugby community mourns one of its own

Steven Taylor, a father and rugby player originally from Calgary, was also killed.

Dean Hopkins, a friend, said Taylor had been at a work camp north of Vancouver but decided to head home after the camp closed due to the weather. He called his wife to let her know.

They didn't speak again.

Steven Taylor is seen in an undated handout photo. A former resident of Calgary, Taylor was identified by close friend Dean Hopkins as one of the victims of last week's mudslide near Highway 99 near Lillooet, B.C. (Dean Hopkins via The Canadian Press)

RCMP phoned Taylor's wife late Wednesday after a body matching his description was found.

"There'll be hundreds, if not thousands of rugby friends, players, throughout our city and province that will be feeling exactly the same. That was the kind of man he was,'' Hopkins said, noting Taylor's wife was devastated.

"There's a difference between losing someone and having someone ripped out of your life at short notice. She is absolutely inconsolable.''

Taylor moved to Vancouver from Calgary with his wife and children for construction work, Hopkins said.

5th person identified, still missing

RCMP said Saturday the search at the Duffey Lake slide area had finished after the bodies of three men were recovered. Anita Hadzic's body was recovered on Nov. 16.

The fifth person, still missing and presumed dead, was identified as 36-year-old Brett Diederichs by family Tuesday. 

In a statement, police said that all available search efforts had been exhausted and there is no timeline as to when the search efforts may resume.

Watch | Death toll from B.C. mudslide climbs to 4:

Death toll from B.C. mudslide climbs to 4 as cleanup efforts continue

1 year ago
Duration 2:01
The bodies of four people have been recovered following a mudslide on Highway 99 near Lillooet, B.C. Meanwhile, cleanup efforts continue in areas hit hard by flooding — with members of the Canadian Armed Forces dispatched to assist.

With files from Georgie Smyth