Clean-up crews began working Thursday to clean up the area. (Brieanna Charlebois/Morning Star)

B.C. woman launched from pool by force of mudslide

“We were so lucky. I’m alive — it’s the hand of God.”

When Val Miller and Patricia Burroughs decided to spend the afternoon lounging by the pool on Tuesday, they had no idea things were about to get deadly.

Burroughs was in the deep end of the pool at home at the Vernon Mandalay Condos when she heard a loud noise and described it as a loud cracking sound. She recalls glancing at Miller in confusion before locating the sound.

“It all happened literally within seconds,” said Burroughs, recalling how they narrowly escaped with their lives when the mudslide began. “We were so lucky. I’m alive — it’s the hand of God.”

Looking up the hillside, she saw mud and trees hurtling down toward them. Instinctually, she swam as fast as she could to the shallow end in an attempt to get out of the water and away from the trees and rocks that were headed in her direction. Despite her best efforts she wasn’t quick enough and felt debris falling onto her head. She said she only had one option: to duck below the surface of the water and hope that she wasn’t crushed.

Meanwhile, Miller — who had just climbed out of the water and was sitting poolside — couldn’t get out of the way quick enough. She covered her head and ducked just in time to avoid the falling fence and tree that came her way. The bordering fence came down with a falling tree, just missing her, but landed in a way that had her lodged behind it, trapped.

Burroughs felt she was lucky.

When the same tree that narrowly missed Miller and landed in the pool, Patricia was huddled only a few feet away. The force of the tree landing on the water actually launched her out of the pool.

“Val doesn’t know how she did it but she crouched down by the wall and avoided being hit somehow. If she hadn’t that tree was in line with her,” said Burroughs. “When it landed, somehow it launched me out like a beached whale and I was on the deck by the hot tub.”

Related: Vernon man recounts intense rescue of couple caught in mudslide

Related: Update expected following mudslide

Patricia’s husband, Patrick Burroughs, was working out in the fitness centre next to the pool and witnessed the mudslide in horror.

“I can’t believe the force of what I saw,” he said. “It was just like out of a movie. The trees had already landed so I just saw all the dirt and sand but when I ran out of the gym, there were four inches of water coming across the deck here from the pool so I went running to find them and didn’t know what to expect.”

He said he feared the worst and still can’t believe the two women got out unscathed. When he got outside, the worst seemed to be over. His wife had already been launched out of the pool but Miller was still stuck behind the fallen fence. He ran over to quickly help her out in case the mudslide wasn’t over. He was able to free her and they ran to safety.

A few minutes prior, the Burroughs said there were about 10 more people in the pool area. If they were still on the scene when the mudslide took place, they are both sure that many would have been killed on impact — that they wouldn’t have been able to get out of the way quick enough and would have been launched against the building.

“When the firefighters showed up I told them that they would have had multiple casualties if it was 10 minutes earlier. There was no way somebody would run from that and outrun it,” said Patrick Burroughs. “There was just a bang and it would have been devastating. It would have been just horrific.”

First responders arrived on the scene immediately and both Patricia and Miller were deemed healthy in hospital, escaping with nothing but a few bruises and an unbelievable story to tell.

Related: Couple survives being buried in mudslide on B.C. highway

Related: Highway 33 open, mudslide cleared

Related: Summerland mudslide threatens homes

To report a typo, email:
newstips@vernonmorningstar.com
.

>


@BrieChar
brieanna.charlebois@vernonmorningstar.com

Like us on Facebook and follow us on Twitter.

Get local stories you won't find anywhere else right to your inbox.
Sign up here

 

Several trees were launched down the hillside at the Mandalay Condos in Vernon. (Brieanna Charlebois/Morning Star)

The fence alongside the pool area was pushed away when a tree came hurtling towards the Mandalay Condos on Tuesday. (Brieanna Charlebois/Morning Star)

The mud pushed several rocks through the courtyard towards the building. (Brieanna Charlebois/Morning Star)

Crews still have a lot of work ahead of them to restore the courtyard. (Brieanna Charlebois/Morning Star)

Just Posted

Matthew Campbell, director of the Fraser Valley Regional Food Bank, stands amongst a large amount of non-perishable food and household items being stored inside the Pacific Community Church. This year’s ‘Halloween For Hunger’ food drive, put on by students at Clayton Heights, will go to benefit the Fraser Valley Regional Food Bank. (Photo: Malin Jordan)
Clayton Heights Secondary kicks off annual ‘Halloween for Hunger’ event

Students to collect much-needed items for food bank

Surrey RCMP cruisers outside a Newton townhouse Tuesday night. (Photo: Shane MacKichan)
UPDATE: Toddler in hospital, woman dead following stabbings at Surrey townhouse

Police say two-year-old was among victims found at townhouse complex in the 12700-block of 66 Avenue

The Surrey Eagles are currently seeking billet families for its players in advance of the 2020-‘21 BC Hockey League season. (Garrett James photo)
Surrey Eagles in ‘desperate’ need of billet families for BCHL season

COVID-19 pandemic has made finding homes for players difficult: billet co-ordinator

A reminder to students at Surrey’s Strawberry Hill Elementary to physically distance during the COVID-19 pandemic. (Photo: Lauren Collins)
Diamond School in Surrey reporting COVID-19 exposure

INTERACTIVE TABLE: Search for schools, organize by exposure dates

Surrey provincial court. (File photo: Tom Zytaruk)
OUR VIEW: Lenient courts aren’t helping

It’s hard to fault the palpable frustration of Metro Vancouver Transit Police

FILE – People wait in line at a COVID-19 testing facility in Burnaby, B.C., on Thursday, August 13, 2020. THE CANADIAN PRESS/Darryl Dyck
167 new COVID-19 cases, 1 death recorded as B.C. enters 2nd wave

Three new healthcare outbreaks also announced

John Horgan brought the NDP campaign to Langley on Wednesday, Oct. 21, just three days before the B.C. vote (Matthew Claxton/Langley Advance Times)
Horgan brings NDP campaign to Langley

Predicts gains, says people are looking at the party ‘differently’ after three years

Brody Peterson said he intends to dispute tickets issued by Grand Forks RCMP at his backyard “house warming” Saturday, Oct. 10. Photo: Laurie Tritschler
Brody Peterson told The Gazette he intends to dispute tickets issued by Grand Forks RCMP at his backyard “house warming” Saturday, Oct. 10. Photo: Laurie Tritschler
Grand Forks RCMP recommend criminal charges after weekend party

Homeowner Brody Peterson said he’ll dispute tickets for refusing police instructions, alleged COVID violations

A glimpse of some of the 480 (approx) cars written off as a result of the acid spills along the Trail highway in 2018. Photo: Trail Times
Kootenay Ford dealer’s frustration grows with ICBC

Trail AM Ford owner Dan Ashman says he just wants fair compensation from ICBC

Join Black Press Media and Do Some Good

Pay it Forward program supports local businesses in their community giving

Mail-in ballot from Elections BC (Katya Slepian/Black Press Media)
At least 26% of eligible voters have already cast a ballot, Elections BC says

Voters can cast a ballot until 8 p.m PST on Election Day

RCMP were called to an assault in the 23700-block of 110 Ave in Maple Ridge Tuesday, Oct. 20, 2020. (Curtis Kreklau/Special to The News)
PHOTOS: Assault in Maple Ridge sends three men to hospital

RCMP were called to a residence Tuesday night

A 2018 decision to fly a rainbow flag ended up costing the City of Langley $62,000 in legal fees (Langley Advance Times file)
Human rights win in rainbow flag fight cost B.C. city $62,000

“Lengthy and involved” process provoked by complaint

Most Read