By Ellen Thompson/Havre Daily Newsemail@example.com
On Aug. 27, Lloyd Rice of Havre and Roger Licht of Stanford were heading through central British Columbia when their quick action during a serious mudslide made them unwitting heroes.
Licht and Rice were on Highway 16 on their way to the Queen Charlotte Islands for a hunting trip when they encountered a rainstorm. Ahead of them, the road was covered by mudslides. Over the sound of successive slides, they heard the screams of trapped motorists.
"They said they left the motor running and they didn't even think," Rice's wife, Lisa Rice, said in an interview today. Lloyd Rice and Licht are on a hunting trip in the Missouri Break and could not be reached for an interview.
Lisa Rice said her husband told her that when he first entered the mud to get to the vehicle, he was up to his knee in mud in his first step, and with his second step was up to his waist. That's when he thought, "'Am I stupid for doing this?'" his wife said. Licht waded in too.
They said it felt like walking in concrete, she added.
The trapped vehicle had held three people, passengers Michael Williams and Jenny Parnellone and driver Allen Jones. Williams had exited the car and attempted to push the vehicle before a second mudslide nearly buried him, according to the Terrace Standard.
Licht and Rice helped Jones escape, while a Terrace, B.C., paramedic, who was returning home with his partner, helped Parnellone escape and then radioed dispatch for more help, a Sept. 8 story in the Standard said.
But the bulk of the time was spent on helping Williams.
When rescue workers arrived, Rice and Licht lead them to Williams, who was trapped in a log jam that had been carried down the mountain in the slide, sunk to his neck in mud. They helped the rescuers work another two hours to extract Williams.
Without the help of the two men from Montana, Williams would not have been found at all, Williams told the Terrace Standard during an interview.
"I would have been buried. I would have been gone for sure," he told the Terrace Standard.
Rescuers first had to pry Williams out of the mud.
"A stick snapped. They were using it to pry the guy out, and Lloyd said, 'Oh God, I think I broke his leg,'" Lisa Rice said.
Williams suffered no major injuries or broken bones, and was later treated for hypothermia.
Once Williams was pried free of the mud, Rice and Licht, working with rescuers, set up a relay system to pull Williams across the top of the mud in a basket stretcher.
Rice and Licht worked with efficiency, leading the Canadian search and rescue personnel to believe that they had rescue training, the Terrace Standard reported.
"Lloyd doesn't. I don't know, Roger might have had some training down at Stanford," Lisa Rice said.
Police Sgt. Scott Lovell of Terrace told the paper he plans to recommend citations of bravery for Rice and Licht. Police knew their names but didn't know where they were from in Montana or how to contact them.
Williams told the Terrace Standard he would like to find the two, recommend them for a medal, and thank them for risking their lives.
Only moments after Williams had reached safety, yet another mudslide came down, the Terrace Standard reported.
When the two returned to their truck, they found the motor still running. After receiving some warm clothing, the two continued on their way. They were told how to follow logging roads to reach the ferry they planned to take to the islands.
The Terrace Standard initially reported that the two stayed the night in Terrace and visited Williams the next day. However, Lisa Rice said they left almost immediately, and Williams told the paper that he had not had a chance to thank them.
Only when the two returned through Canada two weeks later did they learn about the article in the Terrace Standard. They were crossing the border between Alaska and British Columbia when Canadian border patrol officers recognized their names from the newspaper. The two continued home without visiting anyone from the mudslide.
Licht and Rice became friends when they worked together for NorthWestern Energy. Licht transferred to another company, but the two have remained close friends and hunting partners.
Rice grew up in Conrad, and Licht in Dodson.
"They live to go up to Canada," Lisa Rice said. They spend the whole month of September hunting, she added.