Landslide Threatens Wedding, Rescued by Penticton Search and Rescue Boat Ride


As the weeks unfurled towards the Penticton wedding of Tazz Norris and Lisa Lalonde, they saw several guests cancel their attendance due to the threat of wildfires, dense smoke, and an untimely travel ban that was lifted sooner than planned. Little did the couple know, another obstacle was set to disrupt their eminent nuptials.

Fires had intermittently advanced and retreated, as Norris herself recalled, sparking a sardonic observation: ‘What’s the worst that could possibly happen now?’ The answer came in the form of an unexpected landslide.

A mere three-and-half hours before Norris and Lalonde’s anticipated ceremony, a rockslide sent a staggering 3,000 cubic metres of material surging onto Highway 97, a vital route between Summerland and Peachland. Among the stranded was Lalonde’s 92-year-old father and their Kelowna-based family, en route to the wedding.

Jack Lalonde, the bride’s elderly father, narrated the bewildering ordeal to the press: “We reached the slide and, of course, we couldn’t proceed. We had no clue how we’d make it to the wedding.” In his old age, he felt helpless, ultimately leaving the solution to younger family members.

Indeed, a solution was crafted, born from a desperate plea for assistance sent out to friends and unknown Samaritans alike. “I’m all dressed up,” the bride narrated, recalling the nerve-wracking call from her brother informing her of the problem. After the shocking news, she admitted she needed to sit down.

Given the lack of a direct alternate route between Kelowna and Penticton, an unlikely solution presented itself – a boat ride. The call for help was answered by a friend, Randy Brown, who was no stranger to such exigencies, being a search manager with Penticton Search and Rescue.

Brown, perceiving the stress weighing on the family, was pleased to contribute and ensure the plan’s success. He even attached a tracker to the boat to keep the anxious couple updated about their family’s progress. Despite high winds, the maritime rescue operation was completed in 50 minutes, resulting in a 90-minute delay for the ceremony, ensuring the elderly Lalonde could be present.

This was particularly poignant, for the bride’s mother had passed away barely two months prior. To have the father present, Lalonde admitted, meant the world to her.

The remainder of the day unfolded seamlessly. The bride was walked down the aisle by her father in his cherished blue suede shoes, the very pair he wore for his own wedding back in 1955. While a few guests were forced to assemble a viewing party due to the rockslide, the ceremony was marked with love and shared experience, turning adversity into an enriched celebration.

However, the eventful chapters weren’t over: the bride’s father had to be evacuated because of the McDougall Creek wildfire, mere hours after returning to his assisted-living facility post-wedding. Though initially sheltered with family in Summerland, this time he would be staying with relatives in Kelowna.

Norris admitted these swift changes were challenging, but Lalonde seemed to take it as a big adventure, equipped with his personal electronics for company.

After surviving these trials, the newlyweds travelled to Winnipeg to celebrate a second wedding ceremony with Norris’s family, humorously noting that rockslides in Winnipeg are usually limited to curling events. He then speculated that their kerfuffle-filled week would provide excellent comedic source material for his shows.

The resilient couple faced these tribulations with positivity, seeing them not as hinderances, but as tests of their unwavering bond. Norris asserted their shared sentiment: “We figured it was a way to show that together, we can get through anything.”


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