Now Or Never

British Columbia family left in limbo after death of young farmer

Chase Davison was a fifth generation farmer running his family's dairy operation in Maple Ridge, B.C. He dreamed of expanding the farm. That dream was one reason he was on the Trans-Canada Highway when he was killed in a collision, leaving his family unsure of the future.

Chase Davison had taken over operations of the family farm before he was killed in a 2018 car crash

Dairy farmer Chase Davison died in a collision in September 2018, leaving behind his wife, Shannon, and three young children — Tristen, Ethan and Taylor. (Dani Photography)
Listen12:18

Originally aired in October 2018

When Chase Davison got into his truck on Sept. 11, 2018, he was on the brink of making his dreams come true.

The 30-year-old was the fifth generation to work land his family started farming around 1900 in B.C.'s Lower Mainland. But the town of Maple Ridge had grown up around the farm, and the family's property shrunk to its current eight hectares (20 acres).

"Chase's dream was to milk lots and lots of cows and farm lots and lots of land," said his father, Kevin.

Chase wanted to have enough land to divide among his three young children when they grew up.  

Chase Davison hoped his children would take over the family business and become sixth generation dairy farmers. (Supplied)

The family made an offer to purchase a farm five hours away in Lumby, B.C., so Chase could realize his dream. The plan was for Chase, his wife, Shannon, and their kids to move there and expand the herd from 120 to 300 cows.

Tragedy on the highway

Chase left the Davison farm that September afternoon and headed east on the Trans-Canada Highway. He was going to visit family and look at a trailer that would allow him to transport feed and equipment between the farm in Maple Ridge and the new property in Lumby.  

Just after 7 p.m., Shannon called him on his hands-free cellphone to see how far he had made it.  

"We were joking because he had left earlier that day and he couldn't find his wedding ring," she said, noting that she found the ring after he left in the drawer where he always kept it.

"So we were joking that, man eyes, they can never find what's right in front of them. All of a sudden he yelled: 'You mother—' and then it cut out."  

Chase's truck collided with a westbound tanker truck hauling two trailers. According to the RCMP, he hit the second trailer and was killed instantly. The investigation is ongoing, but the family believes the trailer drifted into his lane and, because of the terrain around the highway, there was no way for Chase to avoid hitting it.

In the wake of their son's death, Chereen and Kevin Davison have a lot of questions about what will happen to the family-run farm. (Kayleen Davison)

Huge loss for the farm

Chase's death left the Davison family without their loved one, but also left a huge hole in the farm. Throughout the years, Chase had taken over daily operations from his 61-year-old father and was revolutionizing the farm — using a computer system to manage breeding the herd and his mechanical skills to improve machinery.

"His signature, his handiwork is all around the farm," said Kevin, choking back tears. "And I have to come down here every day and feed the cows and look after everything and see Chase everywhere."

Kevin quickly cancelled the sale of the property in Lumby. Family and friends came from far and wide to help bring in the harvest, plant the winter crop and to help Kevin with the non-stop work of the farm where cows are milked twice a day and calves are born every week.

The family isn't sure what they'll do with the farm now that Chase is gone.

The Davisons haven't decided what to do with the farm in Maple Ridge, B.C., which has been in the family for five generations. (Supplied)

"There's questions every day," said his mother, Chereen. "Do we continue to farm? How do we continue to farm?"

Future uncertain

The Davison family has decided not to make any decisions for at least a year. Right now, they are relying on their faith, family and friends to get them through.  

More than 1,000 people were there to support them at Chase's celebration of life on Sept. 24. Chase's sister Kayleen started a GoFundMe campaign for Shannon who is a stay-at-home mom living with her kids on the Davison farm.

Kevin and Chereen have assured Shannon she'll never have to worry about facing the future alone.

"Shannon is our daughter," said Chereen. "Her children are my grandchildren. She is part of our family."

Shannon Davison, far left, knows she'll always have a home on Chereen and Kevin's farm and a place in their family. (Kayleen Davison)

Corrections

  • An earlier version of this story said that Chase Davison's truck collided with an eastbound tanker truck. According to the RCMP the tanker truck was, in fact, westbound.
    Oct 26, 2018 6:42 PM ET

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