BC mudslide victim identified as Calgary rugby player

CALGARY – Last Monday, as floods and mudslides ravaged British Columbia, Dean Hopkins received an upset call from his close friend’s wife, saying her husband was missing.

CALGARY – Last Monday, as floods and mudslides ravaged British Columbia, Dean Hopkins received an upset call from his close friend’s wife, saying her husband was missing.

The phone call sparked several days of stress for Hopkins which ended in tragedy when his former rugby buddy Steven Taylor was confirmed dead.

Taylor moved from Calgary to British Columbia about a year ago for construction work, and when his wife lost contact with him while driving in one of the areas affected by the slips last weekend she needed help, Hopkins said.

Hopkins took action to find his missing friend.

“In times of crisis, information doesn’t come in too much. And when you have a wife who misses her husband, it’s quite traumatic if you don’t have family support,” he said on Sunday. .

Hopkins said Taylor had been in a labor camp north of Vancouver, but the camp closed due to bad weather. He decided to go home despite the bad roads and called his wife to let her know.

Then there was no more word.

Hopkins started calling Taylor’s co-workers and listened intently to eyewitness testimony of a mudslide that had hit southern Lillooet. He called the hotels in case they saw Taylor. Taylor’s wife has filed a missing person report.

“Her cell phone, every time I call her, is always off the hook,” Hopkins said. But no one picked it up this time.

The days passed and they remained hopeful, he said. But the RCMP then called Taylor’s wife late Wednesday, saying they had found three bodies and one of them matched the description she gave them. She immediately broke the news to Hopkins.

Mounted police said on Saturday the bodies of three men were recovered from a landslide area on Route 99 between Lillooet and Pemberton, along a section of the road known as Duffey Lake Road. They said the bodies were discovered over the past week and brought the mudslide death toll to four.

The body of a woman was found by crews not far from there last Monday.

Hopkins, who is a former military man, said he has already lost men he considered brothers. But it’s still not easy, and he said the news of Taylor’s death had left him “drained” and sick to his stomach.

“There will be hundreds, if not thousands of friends of rugby players in our city and province who will feel exactly the same. He was the kind of man he was,” Hopkins said, noting that Taylor’s wife was devastated.

“There is a difference between losing someone and seeing someone ripped from their life in the short term. She is absolutely inconsolable.”

Hopkins said he would be traveling to Vancouver soon to help. In addition to a wife, he said Taylor is survived by two daughters, two sons and a grandchild.

The BC Coroners Service released a statement over the weekend saying it would investigate the deaths and make recommendations, where possible, to avoid similar situations in the future.

This report by The Canadian Press was first published on November 22, 2021.

– By Rob Drinkwater in Edmonton

The Canadian Press


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