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Search continues for 3 missing after deadly mudslide south of Lillooet

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After finding the body of a woman from the Lower Mainland on Tuesday, search and rescue crews are still looking for three more people believed to be missing after Monday’s massive mudslide on Highway 99 south of Lillooet.

“The work is very complex. Geotechnical analysis of the area is being conducted, and it has to be deemed safe in order for emergency specialists to gain access to the search site,” said RCMP Asst. Commissioner Eric Stubbs.

Road crews are trying to clear the highway for re-opening, while search and rescue teams look for the missing.

“At this point out contractor continues to work closely with the RCMP, recognizing the sensitivity of the situation,” said Janelle Staite with the Ministry of Transportation.

Maple Ridge business owner Kathie Rennie, who was driving home from her cabin with her husband and nine-year-old son on Monday morning, narrowly escaped the torrent of mud and debris.

“I just turned around and it was like a tsunami of trees and stones and mud, and it just came down so quickly,” said Rennie. Her husband grabbed his chainsaw to try to free vehicles as Rennie, who has first aid training, tended to the wounded.

“I was asking the ones I had taken out, was there anyone else with you? Did you see other cars? How many cars should we be looking for, how many people should we be looking for,” she said.

One of the men she helped look for immediately after the slide has still not been located.

“He wasn’t in the car,” said Rennie. “His wife jumped in, he shoved his mom in the car, and then the landslide hit.”

She had to convince the man’s wife and mother to leave the scene without him when rescue crews arrived.

“They were so distraught,” said Rennie. “I don’t know if I could leave either, but we had to leave. We had to get out of there, it was so unsafe. It was just the worst human experience is all I can basically say.”

She knows her family could have easily been swallowed up by the massive slide.

“It’s emotional,” Rennie said through tears. “But it just wasn’t our time. It wasn’t our day, it wasn’t how we were going to go. So thankful, for sure.”

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