‘Came out of nowhere’: Port Alberni man recounts Christmas Day rockslide on Highway 4

‘Came out of nowhere’: Port Alberni man recounts Christmas Day rockslide on Highway 4
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A man caught under the Highway 4 rockslide on Christmas Day is sharing his story, including the shocking moment a tree landed on his car.

“All of a sudden, that just came out of nowhere,” said Larry Horvath.

Horvath was on his way back from his annual Christmas Day fish dressed up as Santa Claus when a tree fell from the sky.

“It hit here, bent my fender,” said Horvath, showing CHEK News the dents on his truck, and how his trailer towing his boat was knocked off.

“It also broke my bumper. I just had it replaced last year, which is kind of a crying shame, but at least I’m here.”

Story continues below.

Some of the damage done to the truck is shown. (CHEK News)

The rockslide halted holiday plans for anyone hoping to travel Highway 4 on Christmas Day and closed off communities like Port Alberni and Ucluelet off from the rest of the Island for nearly 24 hours.

It happened on the same stretch of road where the Cameron Bluffs wildfire burned this summer. The slope needed stabilization before the highway could open fully to traffic.

It’s not clear if this recent rockfall is related.

“We needed to keep the slope closed until we were able to deploy our geotechnical engineers out there…and canvas the area to determine what we could do from a clearing perspective that was safe for our maintenance contractors,” said Janelle Staite with the Ministry of Transportation and Infrastructure on Dec. 26.

Thankfully, it was just a tree and not rocks that took out Horvath’s truck. He’s now facing thousands of dollars in damage, but his biggest concern is for the stability of the slope.

Horvath’s car still needs to be looked at by ICBC, but he thinks the damage is in the thousands and that MOTI needs to be more careful in their slope assessments.

“If you go down the hill you’ll see all the logging that’s going down on the far side. That holds the water back. And they’re not just logging here and there, they’re ripping it right to the top,” said Horvath.

Four days after the slide, Horvath is already back to fighting fish. The results on the water, perhaps more certain than the results to come with insurance.

“I think I’m going to have a fight on my hands,” said Horvath.

Kori SidawayKori Sidaway

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