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Pemberton widow sues over washed out bridge

Katie Burnette, whose husband was killed when the Rutherford Creek Bridge...



Katie Burnette, whose husband was killed when the Rutherford Creek Bridge washed out last October, is suing the provincial government, Whistler, Pemberton, Squamish and several other defendants.

A writ filed in B.C. Supreme Court in Vancouver last week states the action is being brought on behalf of Burnette and her son Cole, now 10 months old.

In it the Pemberton mother claims that the defendants were negligent in not warning drivers that the Rutherford Creek Bridge, north of Whistler on the Sea to Sky Highway, had been washed out.

They ought to have known there was a risk because the day before the bridge washed out water was already flowing over Daisy Lake Dam. And on Oct. 17 or early on Oct. 18, the same day as the washout, a railway bridge at Tisdall Mile 90.5, was damaged by raging flood waters.

"(The defendants) ought to have known that the flood could washout the (Rutherford Creek) Bridge and should have taken precautions to ensure adequate warning signs were posted and/or the surrounding highway and Bridge were closed," states the writ.

On Oct. 18 Burnette’s husband Jamie was driving home with brother Casey and a friend after finishing work in Whistler.

They rounded a foggy corner about 3 a.m. and drove into the void where the Rutherford Creek Bridge had once stood. It had been washed away by the flood-swollen raging waters of the creek.

Casey, 22, managed to escape the Ford Blazer. But the waters swallowed Jamie. His body has never been recovered.

Also killed in the accident was Ed Elliot.

Daryl Stevenson and Mike Benoit were killed in a separate accident the same night when their vehicle also plunged into Rutherford Creek.

The writ also states that in the alternative the defendants can also be found negligent for "allowing the Highway or Bridge and its environs to fall into a state of disrepair and poor maintenance…"

Katie Burnette is seeking damages for herself and Cole claiming that both have lost financial support and contribution to the family finances, loss of future investment opportunities, loss of expected inheritance, and loss of household assistance.

Cole has also lost "guidance, affection and the love that his father would have provided during his lifetime."

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