More victims of deadly Highway 99 mudslide identified, including parents of toddler
More details are emerging about the victims of last week's deadly mudslide near Lillooet, B.C., including a husband and wife who left behind a young daughter.
Anita and Mirsad Hadzic are among the four people whose lives were lost after trees and debris came crashing onto Highway 99, according to a GoFundMe campaign set up to provide for their toddler.
"Anita and Mirsad were the most wonderful parents. They were kind, hardworking and loved by so many," it reads. "I remember her telling me they couldn't stand being apart, and they are now together for all eternity."
The couple's two-year-old daughter is in the care of family, according to the fundraiser. More than $134,000 has been raised for the child's education and future supports, between that and another GoFundMe campaign, both of which have been verified by the website.
A third victim has been identified as Steven Taylor, a former Calgary resident and rugby player who had only been living in British Columbia for about a year.
He was driving back from a worksite when he was caught up in the mudslide.
His former team, the Calgary Irish Rugby Club, issued a statement remembering Taylor as a mentor to many young players.
"On the field there were no tougher competitors, and off the field he gave back to the game he loved as a volunteer," club spokesperson Kevin Allsopp wrote. "He was a force of life to be around and a true friend to all of us."
Dean Hopkins, a friend of the deceased, told CTV News Taylor was someone "you would never forget" after meeting him even a single time.
"He was a man larger than life, not known only by the rugby community but many, many people in Calgary," Hopkins said Sunday.
A separate fundraiser set up to support Taylor's family has gathered more than $24,000 so far.
Kevin Heffner, a 61-year-old business man from the Lower Mainland, also died in the slide, according to family members.
He is being remembered as a devoted husband and father, a talented musician and a handyman.
“My father was my mentor and hero, and was the sole reason I got into music. Without him, I not only lost a father, I lost a great friend and an amazing role model that shaped the lives of so many people,” wrote Justin, his youngest son, in another online fundraiser.
Heffner's eldest son, Brandon, described their first fishing trip together, and how his father made sure it would be a memorable experience.
“You knew it was a big fish and you would let me reel it in and be so proud of me for catching a bigger fish than you. You were so proud you had it published in a news article,” Brandon wrote.
Over the weekend, authorities confirmed four bodies have been recovered from the scene of the Nov. 15 mudslide, while a fifth person remains unaccounted for.
The search for that fifth victim, a 36-year-old Peachland resident, was suspended over the weekend, but will resume once weather in the area improves.
“As of Friday, all available search efforts had been exhausted and there is no timeline as to when the search efforts may resume,” said Staff Sgt. Janelle Shoihet in an email to CTV News.
Shoihet said the four people whose bodies have been recovered are all from the Lower Mainland.
Witnesses who were on Highway 99 when the slide struck recounted hearing "thunderous" noises as trees cracked and a torrent of mud flowed onto the road, sweeping up several vehicles.
They told CTV News an off-duty firefighter organized the survivors, who then went to work helping injured drivers and passengers escape from wrecked cars.
The route was partially reopened Saturday, but only for essential purposes and with a strict vehicle weight limit in place.
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