Real estate agent a lifesaver in flood
High River 2013: Trish Seacrist’s experience with loaders pays off
Wednesday, Jun 18, 2014 09:38 am
It’s pays to listen to dad when you are growing up.
M.D. of Foothills resident Trish Seacrist’s handling of a 38,000-pound wheel loader on June 20 saved many from the raging floodwaters that washed through High River.
Trish — a former cosmetics salesperson who now sells real estate — learned how to handle the heavy-duty equipment from dear old dad, Jack Dickson, who now lives in the MD of Foothills.
“Dad had a road construction business in Manitoba,” Seacrist said. “He always had heavy equipment so I was always around it.”
Seacrist and her loader saved a young man who was stranded on a pillar of the washed-out Montrose Bridge during the June 20 flood last year.
“I had no idea the bridge was washed out,” said Seacrist, an MD of Foothills resident. “I had two Hutterites in the cab with me and this young man from Farmway Machinery (Jonas Payce) was in the bucket to help.”
Meanwhile, the young man in need of being rescued was standing on the pillar, while holding his cellphone in the air.
“I told him: ‘Screw your cellphone get in,”’ Seacrist said. “I turned around and I could see this building floating down at me.
“So I told him he’s got two seconds to jump because I have to get out of here.”
As Seacrist started to back up, the young man jumped — still with his arm in the air to keep the cellphone dry. Payce was able to fish him out and haul him into the bucket.
Meanwhile, Trish’s husband John Seacrist, was watching from nearby Sheppard Family Park, unfortunately, his view wasn’t all that good.
“The RCMP told me: ‘Sorry, sir we can’t let you in right now,’” and I told them : ‘No that’s my wife in my loader right there,’” John said. “They told me: ‘She can’t get in there because the bridge washed out.’”
John gave his phone to his son who tried to text Trish.
“We were waving to her trying to get her attention and the building went by and because of our position we couldn’t see her,” John said. “Somebody said: ‘She’s gone.’ and I started to cry.”
Seconds later, Trish and the loader popped back in vision with the young man in the bucket.
The Seacrists, who rent oil equipment as well as being in real estate, received a call from then High River mayor Emile Blokland early on June 20 asking if they had any loaders available to help berm around the Highwood River.
“By the time we got there (around 10:15 a.m.), we were saving people rather than berming,” Trish said. “Tara (her assistant Tara Ring) and I were going by the Catholic school (Notre Dame Collegiate) and this guy was jumping up and down, pointed to a daycare and said: ‘My kid is in there.’”
Seacrist was somehow able to drive across the stream flowing down the street and with the help of the father, get the children from the daycare in the bucket of the loader.
“I told the father the water has gone up another foot, so I am going to have to go really fast, so you hold you arms across the bucket to make sure none of the kids fallout,” she said. “We were able to get them across.”
Seacrist then took her loader to the High River fire hall, where two members of Hutterite colony met her.
“They got in the bucket of the loader and we would pull people out of their car windows as the cars floated by,” Seacrist said. “There was a canoe with a mom-and-dad and a baby in a canoe and it looked like it was about to capsize, so we plucked them out… We probably had about 16 people in the bucket, so we dropped them off at the traffic circle.”
That was when Seacrist ventured into the Montrose area to save the young man. However, she wasn’t done after plucking the man from the bridge.
After dropping the young man off, Seacrist got into a combine from Farmway Machinery to haul people from High River Co-op east to the High River fire hall.
“We loaded as many people in the hopper that we could and in the cab as well,” Seacrist said. “There was this little boy in a t-shirt and a shorts and he was just frozen. So I put him the cab and tucked his little legs under mine and wrapped my jacket around him.”
As she drove in front of the High River Bob Snodgrass Recreation Complex, the water was getting so high, it began to come into the cab. She was able to get her passengers safely across, where she met her husband.
“I told him: ‘I got to go back and help,’” she said with a laugh. “He said: ‘You aren’t going anywhere. You have done enough today.’”
Little did she know the work had just begun.
Her mom and dad and lost their place at Country Lane RV north of Aldersyde.
“Dad was trying to save everybody else and didn’t save his place,” Seacrist said.
Fortunately, the Seacrists MD of Foothills home west of Cargill was safe. It became a sanctuary for friends and family.
The Seacrists would have 33 people staying at their home after the flood.