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Vernon  

Buried alive and rescued

A Saskatchewan couple is in hospital, lucky to be alive, following a near-deadly mudslide on Highway 3

Gabe Rosescu and Sheri Niemegeers were heading to Nelson when their vehicle was swept away in the slide. 

Rosescu was airlifted to Kelowna, where he is now recovering from serious head injuries and a broken orbital bone. Niemegeers was taken to a hospital in Trail, where she is being treated for a broken sternum and ankle. 

Details of their rescue are starting to emerge.  

Dan Anderson was travelling back to Vernon from Creston when he was stopped by the slide. He was about three or four vehicles back from the slide when he was stopped. 

Realizing they were not getting through the slide, one by one the vehicles in front of Anderson made u-turns on the highway. When Andreson reached the slide he stopped to take a photo, that is when he says he heard the faint sound of somebody calling out for help. 

"It was such a faint holler. Even though he was hollering loudly, they were a long way in, plus with the water rushing and rain, it was hard to hear. I can see why other people never heard."   

Anderson ran back and grabbed another driver who was there and the two men entered the slide looking for the source of the voice. 

"We climbed through all the trees and mud. It was probably 20 to 25 feet high."

The men searched for 15 minutes before they found the couple, who at that point had managed to get out of their vehicle and were crawling their way up the slide.

"When I got to them, I determined there was no way I could get them out the way I came in."

The two men helped the couple out the other side. Over logs and through mud they slowly made their way to the other side of the slide. 

"When we got to the other side, thank goodness there were some other people. We hollered at them that we were trying to get some people out."

Anderson says they were trudging through "porridge-thick mud." 

"There was no way we could have gotten them out any further without their help. It was literally three or four feet of mud blocking the only way out."

Anderson says four or five guys helped to get Sheri out, passing her from person to person. 

"Because we would get stuck and somebody would have to pull us out. It was scary."

Anderson says they didn't think about the dangers going in, but going back to the other side of the slide, where their vehicles were, was scary.

"After I handed her off I would step into a hole and the suction was so strong you couldn't even lift yourself out," he said. "When we were in the mud I kept looking up and just thinking 'holy shit' I hope that doesn't come down, but by that point, we could see the light at the end of the tunnel."  

Anderson says with a laugh, maybe it was stupidity that caused him to go into the slide, but admits in the moment he wasn't thinking about his safety. He just wanted to help.

"It was pretty surreal," he says. "It took me a few days to process what all happened. I really believe there was a reason I walked up to that pile and heard that guy (Gabe)."

Anderson wouldn't call his actions heroic. 

"I think anybody would have done it. I can't imagine anybody not going in there if they heard them crying for help," he says.

Anderson says considering how badly the couple was injured, the true miracle was just how far they managed to get out before help arrived.

—with files from The Canadian Press



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