One year later 

Wife recalls last day for family before flood took its human toll.

It was one of those great family days, where mom and dad lounged on the couch and the baby was perfectly content on his own.

Dad grabbed a little shut-eye, knowing that this Friday night was probably going to be busy at Moe Joe’s, the popular Whistler nightclub where he worked.

And Mom left him alone, content to watch his relaxed body sprawled on the couch from the corner of her eye.

As usual just before dad left for work he bent down to kiss his three-month-old baby boy’s downy head and said: "See you in a couple of hours."

It’s been a year since Katie Burnette heard her husband Jamie utter those few words, but the memory of them and their last day together is as fresh as if it all happened yesterday.

Jamie, along with his good friend Ed Elliott, died in the early morning hours of October 18, 2003 when their red Chevy Blazer plunged into the churning waters of the Rutherford Creek after the bridge had washed away after days of monsoon-like rain.

Jamie’s younger brother Casey miraculously escaped the SUV after listening to Jamie tell him to calm down, take a deep breath, and swim out the smashed window of the sinking car as soon as he could.

All were travelling from their Whistler jobs to their Pemberton homes when the accident happened.

Two other bar workers from the Boot Pub, Daryl Stevenson, 31 and Michael Benoit, 29, also lost their lives that night when they drove off the end of the missing bridge and landed in the swollen creek.

Katie sensed something was wrong long before she learned the awful truth.

"It was 4a.m. and I had this sickening feeling in my stomach because I just couldn’t understand where he was," said Katie, who now lives near Ottawa, near her family and in-laws, with 15-month old Cole.

Jamie had always made a point of coming right home after work since the baby had been born.

After calling her mom in Ontario to voice her concerns, the police, and emergency services, Katie called Elliott’s girlfriend over for coffee and they kept each other company while they listened to the news of the washed out bridge and the devastation of the floods.

Around 7:30 a.m. Casey called Katie from the Pemberton Healthcare Centre where he was recovering after his escape from the river.

"I got Cole dressed and went over there," recalled Katie.

"Casey had been stripped naked and he was under thermal blankets and I looked in the corner of the room and his clothes were soaking wet on the floor.


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