Volunteers and neighbours gathered last Saturday to help clean up a family’s yard after a wind storm. (Jocelyn Titus/Special to The Star)

Aldergrove family grateful for community support after falling tree claims resident’s life

Following a wind storm on Sept. 24, more than 25 people came to clean up the family’s littered yard

A local family is expressing gratitude to the Aldergrove community following the death of a resident that was struck by a falling tree while walking along Robertson Crescent.

Jocelyn Titus said her stepfather, 67-year-old Dave Brett, would walk every single day – rain or shine.

“He was such a positive and spiritual guy who left an impact on everyone that he met,” she said.

Titus explained that Brett was from Courtney, B.C., and commuted from the island to be her mother, Diane Smith, for more than 20 years.

“His dedication to my mom made it work,” she assured.

Brett retired in May of last year and moved to Aldergrove to be closer to the family; he would prepare many special dinners and lend a helping hand to Titus’ many community projects.

Environment Canada had issued a weather alert cautioning residents about a storm system that could potentially bring strong winds to the area on Thursday, Sept. 24.

A resident found Brett unconscious and called paramedics around 7:30 a.m. where he was pronounced dead on the scene.

At the same time, branches, leaves, and trees came crashing down around the family’s home – Titus and her mother share a yard just off of Robertson Crescent and 248th Street.

“Trees had fallen over the deck and on top of my mom’s home,” Titus recalled. “There was no way we could have done it ourselves.”

On the following Saturday, friends, neighbours, and even strangers showed up to clean up the damage the storm had left.

”I’d say there were about 25 to 30 people who came that day to clean up the yard,” Titus said. “Everyone put in about five hours of work and pizza just all the sudden showed up for everyone from Canco.”

Titus said she and her family was humbled by the actions of people who simply showed up to lend a helping hand.

“If something happens to someone else in Aldergrove, people step up to help,” she said.

READ MORE: Falling tree claims life of Aldergrove man

Cleaning and picking are not foreign pastimes to Titus, who founded the community groups Cleaning up Aldergrove and Earth Ninjas in attempts to pick up garbage left on neighbourhood streets.

Titus was planning a pick that weekend, but her stepfather’s unexpected passing has since put all of her projects in limbo.

While COVID-19 has made her picks difficult to organize, Titus said a falling out with her garbage transportation crew has made it even harder to continue the volunteer service.

“We’re volunteers on a mission to clean up the community,” she said. “I had gotten a grant earlier this year to help it keep going, but now it’s coming out of my own pocket to transport what I’ve picked to the dump.”

None the less, Titus assured Aldergrove that her picking groups will continue because that’s what her stepfather would have wanted.

“I promised that this will not stop me,” Titus assured, recalling the many times Brett would accompany her on Earth Ninja clean-ups.

“He was my biggest supporter,” Titus recalled. He would say ‘I feel good doing it. It’s small, but I feel we are doing something good’.”

She told the Aldergrove Star that the most frequent road where her picks took place has been Robertson Crescent.

“You wouldn’t believe the things I have found there,” Titus laughed, recalled Brett was the one who came across the jackpot; a one hundred dollar bill.

She is also hoping this accident will get Langley Township crews to monitor trees and rural neighbourhoods more closely.

“The tree that fell was rotten,” Titus said.

But while she, her mother, and her two children are left to grieve, Brett’s family takes comfort in the fact that he was a man who lived life to his fullest.

“He road motorbikes and walked on hot coals,” Titus said. “I honestly can’t believe that’s not the way he went.”

She noted that the strange storm seemed to last for only 15 minutes and seemingly in that specific area.

“Maybe a reason he called for a higher power,” Titus wonders. “I don’t know.”

What she and her mother are sure of is that the phone calls, food, labour, and community support from Aldergrove residents is overwhelming and appreciated.

“Just the amount of food alone that has donated to us… everything has really has made it easier and really helped the grieving process,” Titus said.

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Is there more to this story?

Email: ryan.uytdewilligen@aldergrovestar.com

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Volunteers and neighbours gathered last Saturday to help clean up a family’s yard after a wind storm. (Jocelyn Titus/Special to The Star)

Volunteers and neighbours gathered last Saturday to help clean up a family’s yard after a wind storm. (Jocelyn Titus/Special to The Star)

Volunteers and neighbours gathered last Saturday to help clean up a family’s yard after a wind storm. (Jocelyn Titus/Special to The Star)

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