British Columbia

Search becomes recovery operation for woman swept away in Cache Creek mudslide

In what police were describing as a recovery operation, search dogs, assisted by drones, spent Wednesday looking for the body of a missing 67-year-old woman who was swept away in a car after a forceful mudslide near Cache Creek on Saturday.

Valerie Morris, 67, was in a car when a forceful slide barrelled across Hwy 99

Police search for the body of 67-year-old Valerie Morris after she was swept away in a mudslide near Cache Creek on Saturday. (Tina Lovgreen/CBC)

In what police were describing as a recovery operation, search dogs, assisted by drones, spent Wednesday looking for the body of a missing 67-year-old woman who was swept away in a car after a forceful mudslide near Cache Creek on Saturday.

"We are definitely switching into recovery mode with our search, so we are still looking for our victim at this point and trying to bring some closure to the family," said Ashcroft RCMP Sgt. Kathleen Thain.

RCMP say Valerie Morris and her husband, Tom, were travelling in a group of six vehicles en route to Kamloops when a thunder and lightning storm hit and the skies suddenly opened up.

Morris' husband had pulled over to the side of the road to put up the top on the couple's 1968 Morgan convertible and was outside the vehicle when the mudslide struck. 

There were 17 mudslides along Highway 99, which caused traffic to narrow into a single lane along a stretch of the highway.

Police tape wraps around the muddy field where a landslide happened on Saturday. (Tina Lovgreen/CBC)

Thain says after the Elephant Hill Wildfire last year the ground was compromised. 

"We've nothing in our backcountry, that is holding back any of the ground, that basically has no trees, no grass, no roots holding the dirt," she said.

"So, when we had that intense storm and thunder, lightning and hail, it caused the ground not to be able to absorb that fluid, thus causing the landslide," she said.

The intense volume of water and debris pushed the car with Morris in it 350 metres down the embankment.

Flowers at the scene mark the spot where Morris was swept away. (Tina Lovgreen/CBC)

Friends say bystanders were able to rescue Morris' husband who was taken to hospital. 

"There is no way they would be able to avoid it," said Thain. She says it will likely take some time to locate Morris's body. 

A stretch of Highway 99 near Highway 97 is down to single lane traffic after the slide. (Tina Lovgreen/CBC)

Read more from CBC British Columbia

Comments

To encourage thoughtful and respectful conversations, first and last names will appear with each submission to CBC/Radio-Canada's online communities (except in children and youth-oriented communities). Pseudonyms will no longer be permitted.

By submitting a comment, you accept that CBC has the right to reproduce and publish that comment in whole or in part, in any manner CBC chooses. Please note that CBC does not endorse the opinions expressed in comments. Comments on this story are moderated according to our Submission Guidelines. Comments are welcome while open. We reserve the right to close comments at any time.

Become a CBC Member

Join the conversationCreate account

Already have an account?

now