On a recent Sunday morning, Merritt resident Brent Crack was leaving for his mom’s place when he learned the road leading to her home was washed after a recent series of rainstorms.

This was a serious problem. Kathy Crack, who lives on a five-acre rural property about 16 kilometres west of Merritt, is a cancer patient. “She is 65 years old and currently going through chemotherapy for an aggressive cancer,” Brent said.

On Sunday, Kathy needed to get to Kamloops Hospital for a blood test and Brent was her ride. “The Kamloops hospital does blood tests on Sundays from 8 am to 2 pm, so we didn’t have a lot of time to mess around.”

Taken from the helicopter – flooding on the Nicola River, water depths up to three metres.

Brent said Kathy undergoes the blood test every Sunday to determine if her subsequent Monday chemotherapy treatment should proceed. Without the test, she would not receive the treatment.

But with several local roads out of service after days of heavy rain, flooding and washouts in the Southern BC Interior, the clock was ticking and Brent was losing options.

“The idea was, I would go pick her up, drive her to Kamloops for the blood work, take her home, then drive her in the next day for the chemo. But the road was washed out in both directions, from the Spences Bridge side and from the Merritt side,” Brent recalled. What happened next was “a mad scramble.”

It occurred to him that a helicopter could be a practical alternative — if he could find a ride on such short notice. He contacted Valley Helicopters in Merritt about the availability of a helicopter to pick Kathy up at her home and as fate would have it, there was already one in the air. It was on a patrol for the Trans Mountain Pipeline and it was coming his way.

“The manager at Valley Helicopters said the helicopter was travelling from Hope to Kamloops and may be able to assist,” Crack said.

The manager got on the radio with Linnea Mogk, who provides patrols for the Trans Mountain Aerial Pipeline Protection Program.

“The manager asked her if there could be a brief stop in Merritt to assist with the evacuation of my mother. Linnea approved of the delay in her work activities to help us out.”

“The pilot and Linnea landed in Merritt and picked me up. We travelled to my mom’s house (landing the helicopter on the front lawn) and picked her up and all of us returned to Merritt.”

From there, Brent drove his mom to Kamloops for the blood test, then brought her back to his home where she stayed overnight in preparation for the chemotherapy treatment the next morning.

Brent noted that he paid the air costs for the detour to pick up his mom, adding, “I’m thankful. I would have been stuck if Linnea had said no.”

“The timing was perfect. My mom was able to make her medical appointment on time. My mother was very thankful, very impressed, very happy.”

Brent, who works in the oil industry, sent a letter to Kinder Morgan Canada to express his appreciation, thanking Valley Helicopters’ manager and pilot, Linnea and Kinder Morgan Canada for “taking time out of their work days to accommodate a small request for assistance. Myself and my family appreciate what you have done.”

Linnea noted the Sunday patrol was not part of the regular schedule. “It was an additional patrol requested to monitor water levels within the pipeline corridor. We had an opportunity to help out in a timely manner so Valley Helicopters decided it made sense for the patrol team to assist Brent and Kathy. Time was of the essence for her to make her appointment,” Linnea said.

“I’m so happy we were able to assist Kathy. It feels good to help out when someone is in need, and everyone knows someone who is affected by cancer. I wish Brent and Kathy the best,” she added.