brett diederichs mudslide

Friends and family raise almost $100k for Toronto man lost in B.C. mudslide

A former Toronto man, well-known in the city's restaurant scene, was lost in the devastating mudslides in British Columbia.

Brett Diederichs, 36, worked in some of Toronto's best restaurants including Rodney's Oyster House and The Drake Hotel.

Brett and his wife Madison Van Rijn moved to British Colombia after Brett lost his restaurant job during the pandemic, according to the CBC. The couple was living with Brett's mother in Peachland where he worked at some local wineries, but they were about to start a new life in Victoria.

Brett, his mother and Madison were on Highway 99 near Pemberton on their way to Vancouver Island on Nov. 15 when a mudslide swept across the road and several vehicles were stopped ahead of their car.

"Brett was out, seeing if there was anything that could be done, or if anyone needed help," his sister, Kirsten Diederichs, told the Kelowna Daily Courier. Kirsten said her brother had a big heart, always wanting to help. He had training as both a firefighter and paramedic.

But while he was on the highway, a larger mudslide descended on the area and he wasn't able to get back to his vehicle in time.

"He screamed to my mom, 'Get back in the car!'," Kirsten told the Vancouver Sun. "She just made it back in time before they were all swept off the road. Brett didn't make it in time."

Support and messages of love are coming in through a family Gofundme.

"With broken hearts we share that on their way to their new home on Vancouver Island Brett, Madison and my Mom were caught in the landslides in Duffey Lake road outside of Pemberton B.C. ," the family says in a Gofundme.

"While we were lucky enough to have Mom and Madison escape uninjured, our beloved son, brother, life partner, nephew, cousin and friend Brett was taken by the landslide and continues to be missing."

Brett was a "monster" in the Toronto restaurant scene, friend and colleague Chris Searl told the Toronto Star.

"There's a whole city that's in a lot of shock and a whole industry in Toronto that he touched," Searl said.

Kirsten called Brett "one of the kindest, most generous, emotionally intelligent, considerate human beings."

Kristen said the funds raised in the Gofundme, which had reached over $90,000, will be used to cover end-of-life costs, including a celebration of life and to alleviate some pressure for his wife to give her some time to process her loss.

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