Gerald Pash, 19, on radio in Victoria. (Gerald Pash collection)

Former CHWK radio reporter remembers the Hope Slide

‘Ours were the first reports of the slide. We wrote the first version of history.’

The 55th anniversary of the Hope Slide this week has jogged some memories.

Gerald Pash, 75, remembers helping to put the first radio reports together on the terrible Hope Slide which occurred on January 9, 1965.

READ MORE: Slide photos from the archives

Pash, who now lives in Victoria, was a 20-year-old radio news reporter at the time, working for CHWK and living in Chilliwack when he became one of the first to get wind of what happened.

“After arriving at work at 5:30 a.m. I started the regular police checks up the valley,” Pash said.

He called RCMP detachments from Abbotsford to Boston Bar, checking for overnight incidents like fatalities on the 401, which Highway 1 was called in the mid-60s.

But on that fateful morning, the Hope RCMP watch commander told him there’d been a couple of small slides up the Hope-Princeton, and that they had sent a car to investigate.

“He called back a half hour later and we learned that the whole mountain had come down,” Pash said.

They had no idea it would be recognized as the most devastating landslide disaster in the country at the time.

“It is regarded as an event unequalled in the history of the province,” reported the Chilliwack Progress. “The slide was apparently triggered by the second of two small earthquakes which it is recorded had epicentres in the Nicolum Valley.”

Four travellers were killed in the disaster and two of the bodies were never found, despite a huge search effort led by Search and Rescue and local volunteers. Still missing are Mary Kalmakoff, 23, of Penticton, and Dennis Arlitt, 23, also of Penticton.

READ MORE: History of the Hope Slide

The slide site was later described as resembling a barren, lunar landscape filled with rocks.

CHWK had dispatched reporter Ed Wilson up to the scene, who managed to get an on-tape interview with Highways Minister Phil Gaglardi that they were able to package and distribute to broadcast news and several radio stations.

“It was a very busy day,” Pash remembered.

It took all day to put together the reports, using the technology of the day – a manual typewriter and large format reel to reel tape, among other obsolete tools.

“Ours were the first reports of the slide,” Pash said. “We wrote the first version of history.”


Do you have something to add to this story, or something else we should report on? Email:
jfeinberg@theprogress.com


@CHWKjourno
Like us on Facebook and follow us on Twitter.

Get local stories you won't find anywhere else right to your inbox.
Sign up here

 

Gerald Pash interviewing officers from CFB Chilliwack in Sardis for CHWK in the late 1960s. (Gerald Pash collection)

Just Posted

Mission man who nearly died from COVID-19 at Abbotsford hospital reflects on one-month battle

Robert Billyard was in an induced coma to ensure his body would not fight the ventilator to breathe

Lavender hand sanitizer sale raises cash for Fraser Valley Health Care Foundation

Golf course and lavender farm partner up to support health care in the Fraser Valley

UBC soccer star Victory Shumbusho offers one-on-one training for Chilliwack players

The Chilliwack FC grad believes players need more training to reach higher levels of soccer

Wings and Wheels fundraiser ready to roll in Abbotsford this weekend

Unique collection of cars invading Tradex for drive-thru experiences on Saturday and Sunday

Vedder River gets reprieve from gravel removal this summer

Applications withdrawn by river management committee and process concluded for 2020

B.C. records new COVID-19 death, 85 more cases; Horgan calls on celebrity help

This brings the total number of active confirmed cases to 531 across the province

Health Canada says several kids hospitalized after eating edible pot products

People warned not to store cannabis products where children can find them

‘It’s not just about me’: McKenna cites need to protect politicians from threats

Police investigation was launched after someone yelled obscenities at a member of McKenna’s staff

Michigan plans dedicated road lanes for autonomous vehicles

First study of its kind in the U.S. to figure out whether existing lanes or shoulders could be used

Large missing python found ssssafe in Victoria after being on the lam for weeks

The snake was located more than six kilometres from where it went missing

B.C. announces multi-year plan to double treatment beds for youth with addiction

This will bring the total number of new beds specific to those 12 to 24 years old to 247 province-wide

Man wanted for ramming police car and almost hitting bystanders in Abbotsford

Police say Lorne Guilbault ‘engages in high-risk criminal driving behaviour’

Wedding party bear sprayed at Okanagan campsite irks locals

Latest criminal activity at the Meadows leaves locals frustrated

Most Read