Evelyn McDonald poses with her son Greg and Const. Brad Rendall. Rendall helped track down McDonald’s son years ago, and help him on the road to recovery from addictions. The officer and grateful mom had a chance encountered in Likely during the wildfires last year. Submitted photo.

2017 wildfires give B.C. mom chance to say thank you to officer who saved her son

An unlikely encounter in the rural community of Likely, near Williams Lake

When Evelyn McDonald was serving coffee to a group of strangers in Likely while the rest of the Cariboo was evacuated during the 2017 wildfires, she never expected who she would encounter.

It’s a story that begins in 2014, when McDonald’s son, Greg, went missing.

“I was in Alberta at the time, and I lived there, and I got a phone call from the Chilliwack transit company that his cell phone and belongings were found on a bus, but that no one could find him.”

At the time, her son was addicted to drugs and to be so far away when he was missing was tough on McDonald.

She called the RCMP and ended up on the phone with Const. Brad Rendall.

“He was the one I dealt with from the beginning. He started the fire and he was just a kind, kind fellow. He went above and beyond calling me every day to give me updates,” she said.

Two weeks later she got a special call from Rendall.

“He said, just one second, and passed the phone over to my son. He took him to a detox clinic and made sure he was alright,” said McDonald. “It was pretty amazing.”

READ MORE: Wildfire T-Shirt proceeds exceed all expectations

She said that was the first step on her son’s path to sobriety, and would send Rendall an update on the anniversary every year to thank him for everything that he had done.

Three years later, McDonald had moved to the Cariboo. Originally visiting Anahim Lake, (because she wanted to see where Carey Price was from), McDonald fell in love with the place.

When the fires started last July, and McDonald heard there were RCMP being brought from all over the area, she sent an email to Rendall telling him he was welcome in their home if he was ever in the area.

She said he responded with “My boss said I am too old and crotchety to be sent out.”

In an unusual move for McDonald and her husband, she said they headed down to the Likely Lodge one evening to watch the fights.

“All of a sudden the RCMP officers came in,” she said. “I was making coffee and just yacking away, and out of curiosity I asked if anyone was here from Chilliwack.”

The officers pointed out a very tall man.

“I said do you happen to know Brad Rendall? He pointed to his name tag, and I said, ‘What?’

“He said, ‘I’m Brad Rendall’ and I started crying.”

She introduced herself as Greg’s mom, and started talking.

“I was finally able to say thank you in person,” she said.

“It was amazing to say thank you to his face — Well, I stood on a chair.”

She counts it as one of the best things that has ever happened to her.

“You can say to someone thank you so many times via internet and email, but to actually meet him in person was the greatest thing ever. To look him in the eyes and say thank you. This whole thing has come full circle and something that started out so tragically has the best ending.”

READ MORE: B.C. rancher demands change on how gov’t handles emergencies after 2017 wildfires

She sent a letter to the RCMP afterwards, retelling the story, and nominating Rendall for any type of award that would fit the circumstance.

In June, Rendall was honoured for his compassion, thanks to McDonald’s nomination, and McDonald herself was given a Challenge Coin, to celebrate her acknowledgment.

“It was pretty neat,” said McDonald. “There was good that came out of the fires for us.”


Do you have a comment about this story? email:
editor@wltribune.com

Like us on Facebook and follow us on Twitter.

Just Posted

Watercolours by late Chilliwack artist to be unveiled at Yarrow Library

The public is invited to a special unveiling of three of Heinz Klassen’s watercolour paintings

Yarrow Library one of the stops on Cubetto’s grand tour

FVRL’s friendly wooden robot, Cubetto, travels throughout Fraser Valley to teach programming basics

No home for Agassiz Community Garden on school district land

The garden is still homeless after SD78 said no to the society using the McCaffrey School property

Chilliwack PEO: ‘We who are sisters’

International oganization celebrating 150 years of service

Chilliwack students take the lead as mental health advocates

About 100 Chilliwack youth prepped to make a difference during Mental Health Week

Dashcam captures close call between minivan, taxi at busy Vancouver intersection

To make the footage more nerve-wracking, a pedestrian can be seen standing at the corner

VIDEO: Fan support almost deafening as Giants take Game 2 in finals

Vancouver G-Men cap comeback with thrilling third period to beat Spokane 4-2 on home ice in Langley

Waste not: Kootenay brewery leftovers feed the local food chain

Spent grains from the Trail Beer Refinery are donated to local farmers and growers, none go to waste

Deck collapses in Langley during celebration, 35 people injured

Emergency responders rushed to the Langley home

B.C. mom wages battle to get back four kids taken from her in Egypt

Sara Lessing of Mission has help from Abbotsford law firm

VIDEO: Fire guts Peachland home

Crews are still on scene pumping water onto the blaze in the Okanagan neighbourhood

$6K raised in one day’s time for family of woman gunned down in Penticton

GoFundMe launched for family of Darlene Knippelberg, to pay for funeral costs and other expenses

B.C. mountain biker sent home from hospital twice, despite broken vertebrae

Released in Maple Ridge to go home with three fractured vertebrae

Seven tips to travel safely this Easter long weekend

An average of three people are killed, and hundreds more injured, each Easter long weekend in B.C.

Most Read