April 13, 2018 8:59 pm

‘It sounded like a locomotive:’ Vernon home hit by mudslide


Larry Gilchuk and his wife, Goret Fontoura, were in a deep sleep when something hit their Vernon house.

“I’ve never ever had anything scare the living out of me,” Gilchuk said. “You don’t know if the ground you’re standing on is even going to be there in 10 seconds.”

“It sounded like a locomotive. It didn’t sound like a crash.”

Gilchuk said their house turned into chaos with his wife screaming and dogs barking.

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“So we got up and tried the lights. There’s no lights. The power is out,” he said.

READ MORE: Vernon road reopens after mudslide

Gilchuck said he then passed out.

“So we got our marbles together, and we phoned 911. Then we went to go outside, and they told us to get back in the house because there’s live wires lying in the driveway,” Gilchuk said.

Fontoura said she then checked their bedroom closet with a phone light.

“That’s when I saw a tire in the closet. And then I told the 911 operator there’s a vehicle in my closet, and I hear noises,” Fontoura said.

“Of course, not knowing what it is, I’m thinking there is a person in the car, seriously injured, maybe dying.”

But they couldn’t get into the car, so they waited.

“The ambulance showed up. I went out to the front door because they had lights, and I finally saw that it was a mudslide,” Fontoura said.

“And it was my own car that was in the closet of my bedroom.”

It was lucky the car was parked where it was, Gilchuk said, because it stopped the trees that came crashing down from sliding into the bedroom where they were sleeping.

“If it would have been another 10 feet to the east, we would have been dead.”

“It’s just devastating. The whole yard was just filled with debris and rocks and everything was smashed up and demolished,” Gilchuk said.

READ MORE: Yellow Lake Mudslide Video

According to the City of Vernon, the landslide on Eastside Road likely occurred because of saturated ground conditions on a steep embankment.

“We are currently preparing a plan to permanently stabilize and repair the embankment area where the slide occurred,” James Rice, Vernon’s manager of public works, said in a news release. “Work will likely occur within the next four to six weeks.”

The city said debris has been removed and temporary improvements have been completed to ensure the site is safe.

READ MORE: Army of volunteers clean up Oliver golf course after mudslide

The couple said their home insurance won’t cover the mudslide, but the community support has been overwhelming.

“Out of all of this devastation, we’ve had a lot of hope, a lot of friends and family coming to help us,” Fontura said. “We’re going to survive this.”

“It’s really touching, actually. We kinda cried a couple times,” Gilchuck said. “At the end of the day, we’re alive, and it’s all sticks and stones.”

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