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

VIDEO: Giants take a 1-0 playoff series lead

Vancouver beat Seattle 7-1 in game one of the best-of-seven Western Conference series in Langley

Coroners office reports 29 fatal drug overdoses in Langley in 2018

Dealing with drug overdoses, fatal or not, creates serious stress for first responders.

PHOTOS: ‘Enchanted Forest’ excursion unveils Aldergrove park’s new Nature Discovery Area

Atop the former Aldergrove Lake now sits a large “free play” adventure area for kids.

Aldergrove team could return as all-stars on ‘The Amazing Race Canada’

Mother and daughter duo given a second chance, though their fate rests in the hands of voters

B.C. researcher says device mimics parent’s touch to help babies cope with pain

Calmer device is a rectangular platform that replaces a mattress inside an incubator

Late-season wave of the flu makes its round in B.C.

BC Centre for Disease Control reported 50 per cent jump in flu cases in first weeks of March

Tofino’s housing crisis causing some to seek shelter at the local hospital

Tofino’s housing crisis is pushing the town’s ‘hidden homeless’ population into the forefront.

Sentencing judge in Broncos crash calls for carnage on highways to end

Judge Inez Cardinal sentenced Jaskirat Singh Sidhu to eight years

2 fires in Victoria caused by cigarettes prompts warning from deputy fire chief

Two separate fires caused by cigarette butts were avoidable

98-year-old cyclist in critical condition after struck by car in Abbotsford

83-year-old driver stayed on scene and did not suffer any injuries in the incident

Wildlife activists slam B.C. business, clubs for ‘wolf-whacking’ contests

Chilcotin Guns, Creston Valley Rod and Gun Club and West Kootenay Outdoorsmen Club under fire

Most Read