Locals fundraise to bring friends body back to Whistler after drowning death in Costa Rica
Jamie White loved Whistler, moving here five years ago to snowboard, golf and enjoy all that the town has to offer. It was his home.
With a little help from his friends and well-wishers, it will be his home once again.
Jamie drowned on Sept. 1 while vacationing in Costa Rica with a friend. He did not have travel insurance, and his body is being kept there until his family and friends can come up with the money to bring him back to Canada.
His parents have already had to pay $3,000 to bring Jamies body to a hospital in Costa Rica. It will cost at least $12,000 to bring him the rest of the way.
To help his family with the costs, and do their part for a friend they knew would be there for them, Jamies co-workers at Whiski Jack Resorts are organizing a fundraiser at Tapleys Pub on Sept. 17, with Tapleys generating the proceeds from every drink sold to bring Jamie home. There will also be draws for prizes and other fundraising activities. For more information, see the advertisement on page 24.
Jamie was born and raised in Newfoundland, and moved to Whistler in 1998. He worked for Blackcomb Mountain his first year here, where he met Shawn Tiedeman. Jamie moved in with Shawn in Alpine Meadows in 1999.
"The thing about Jamie was that he was always happy, he always had a smile on his face whatever was going on in his life, he always had a smile on his face," remembers Shawn.
Jamie was a social guy and liked to play hard, snowboarding and golfing, and party hard with his friends.
"He had a lot of friends. Whistler is not that big a town, and he was in the village every day when he was working for Whiski Jack. He was always in the village meeting people, and was part of the village. He knew a lot of people and he had a lot of friends," said Shawn.
A typical Newfoundlander in a lot of ways, Jamie had a great sense of humour, said Shawn. "He was always cracking everyone up, putting smiles on everyones faces. He was a funny, friendly guy."
Drue Kosie, who was with Shawn when the accident took place, stayed in Costa Rica to help take care of arrangements on that end. "Hes pretty broken up, but hes not coming home without Jamie," said Shawn.
Friends and family have been frustrated by the lack of help theyve received from the Canadian consulate. Shawn would like to see Jamie brought home by Canada first, then worry about the money later. Demanding the money up front is putting a strain on friends and family, he said.
Jamies co-workers at Whiski Jack are also determined to bring their friend home.
Dave Beech remembers Jamie as a friendly guy, and says everyone at work is pretty upset.
"Were still in shock because hes not here," said Beech.
"He was this easy going, casual guy, a good athlete, a good snowboarder, a really good golfer. The last guy you want to say good-bye to."
Cheryn Pollard, another of Jamies co-workers, is helping to organize the fundraiser at Tapleys.
"When you move to Whistler, you dont really know anybody, so the people you work with become your friends. Even saying that, were all pretty close here. Its transient as well, so one of the hardest things has been to send out e-mails to all the people who knew Jamie," she said.
She says she will miss Jamies Newfoundland accent, which would really come out after a few Kokanees, as well as Jamies obsession with hockey and his favourite teams, the Toronto Maple Leafs and Vancouver Canucks.
"Theres not many truly good people in the world, but what youre going to see on Wednesday is that there was nobody who met Jamie who didnt love him," said Cheryn.
Jamies family recently moved to Vancouver Island from Newfoundland, and Jamie had spent the past five months living with them. He planned to move back to Whistler after his trip to Costa Rica.
He is survived by his parents, Rose and Brian, his brother Jason, his sister-in-law Lisa, and his nephew Brandon.
His family plans to hold funeral services for Jamie in Whistler when he can be returned to Canada.