It was September 13, 2008 when I lost my brother in law, Shawn LaPlante. He was young, fun, hardworking and in love with my sister. He’d just bought his first home the previous year. He was so proud. His best friend, Kelly, had been married the previous month and he wanted to take him fishing. Shawn loved fishing. He had a secret spot he wanted to share with Kelly and his wife.
The road was undercut by rain but you couldn’t tell. He drove his truck onto that road and it gave way. Liza was thrown from the back of the camper where she was riding, reading a book, listening to music. The camper exploded on the first roll, shattered into matchsticks. Shawn was killed instantly. The truck landed on him. Kelly was pinned into the passenger side with the roof crushed onto him, in icy water up to his neck, bleeding.
Liza walked out, miles. There was no way up to the road. She had lost her shoes and between grief and pain she found a way onto the road by walking along the river, climbing over rocks, scaling fallen trees and weeping and panicked, not knowing if she could find someone, anyone who could get help. They were in the Canadian Rockies, 50 miles from the nearest paved road. No cell phone, even if it would have worked.
She found two men, one of them ran back to the scene with her and the other got in his truck and drove to call for help.
It took hours with the jaws of life and an expert group of rescuers to pull Kelly from the wreck. It took a logging helicopter to lift the truck off of Shawn. Liza was there for the whole thing.
I wasn’t there. I’d moved away in April. I’d come back for their first wedding anniversary party in July and returned to my new home. The shock of Shawn’s death lives with me every day. THis is a hard day for all of his family and friends. Because of Liza and the rescuers that day, Kelly survived to have two babies (so far) with his wife.
I don’t think I’ll ever forget that smile. Even when it hurts to remember it.
Cheers to you Shawn. For all you taught me.