Heartbroken loved ones recount how B.C. mudslide swept away man well-known in Toronto’s restaurant scene

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In the last moments his loved ones saw Brett Diederich, he was doing what came most naturally to him: helping others.

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Diederichs, who is famous throughout Toronto’s restaurant scene, was driving last week with his mother, Brenda Diederich, and wife Madison Van Rijn to Victoria for what they hope would be a new life.

A small mudslide on the section of Hwy blocked traffic. 99 known as Old Duffy Road near Lilouette, BC


Stopping, Diederich got out of his car to see if anyone was hurt. A firefighter by training, he recently received his paramedic license to help fight the scorching wildfires from BC this summer.

Then, there was a loud rumble, and Diederich shouted to Brenda, “Mom, get back in the car!”

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“My brother was just swept away,” says Diederich’s sister, Kirsten, describing the scene as another, big landslide had hit her brother.

By “absolute miracle”, Brenda and van Rijn survived the incident, Kirsten said, after being trampled through mud and waiting for two hours to be rescued and taken to hospital.

Four bodies have so far been recovered from the rubble of Old Duffy Road mudflats, after a month’s worth of water storms caused unprecedented atmospheric rain in BC, causing extreme flooding and tearing down entire sections of highway.

RCMP Staff Sgt. Janelle Shohett told the Star that a 36-year-old man from Peachland, B.C., whose family and friends confirmed to be Diederich, was also caught in the slide, but police were not able to locate him during a sweeping sweep of the area. Was.

“At this point, we have exhausted all available search opportunities,” Shoheit said. “As the days go by, hope is waning.”

Tall, tattooed, and handsome, Diederich was described by friends as “whip smart,” often shirtless, and “someone who always had a big grin and a kiss for everyone.”

Six-foot-five Diederich was taller than five-foot-two Kirsten. “He’s a big teddy bear, just a big softie,” she said, “he’s one of the kindest, most generous, emotionally intelligent, considerate human beings around.”

Close friend Michael Webster said, “Even if you met him for a moment, you would remember him forever,” Diederich was a “wise man” who knew “when to speak” and Knew “how to listen”.

“He kept this appearance for other people that very few people do.”

Brett Diederich played guitar in a band his friend Matt Wu called "not the best, but certainly the funniest".

Born in New Westminster, BC, Diederich moved to Oakville at the age of nine and attended White Oaks Secondary School. After training to become a firefighter at Seneca College, he pursued his passion for restaurants, where he worked for more than 15 years at institutions such as Rodney’s Oyster Bar and The Drake Hotel.

Longtime friend and collaborator Chris Searle said Diederich was a “monster” in Toronto’s restaurant industry and “there was no one in the game who knew more about food and wine.”

The two met about 10 years ago, when the two were hired to help open Chef Rob Rossi’s College Saint steakhouse, Bestelon, which would go on to become Giulietta.

Searle recalls one of his first laughs, when he was fixing the plumbing in Besteln’s basement, and being less and less knowledgeable about plumbing than Diederich, Searle found a light for them while working. was entrusted with the task of keeping

“I think after that we were having a beer and he said ‘You spent six hours looking at my nose,'” said Searle in the Call with Star, alternating between chuckles and tears about his friend. Speaking, who was fluent in Japanese, dabbled in competitive oyster shaking and played guitar in a band. (Bandmate Matt Wu said that his band Drunk Hussey “wasn’t the best band, but certainly the funniest.”)

“There’s an entire city that’s in great shock and there’s an entire industry in Toronto that it’s touched,” Searle said.

Brett Diederich was a master oyster shaker and worked at Rodney's Oyster Bar in Toronto.

As the pandemic ravaged the hospitality industry, Diederich and van Rijn moved to Peachland in August 2020 to be with Brenda, who had recently lost her husband – Diederich’s father – to brain cancer.

The family later decided to relocate and start a new chapter in Victoria, where they were headed when a torrential downpour caused dozens of mudslides in the southwest BC.

The Diederichs and Van Rijn were together for five years, but first became friends at the age of 18.

“She was the love of his life,” Kirsten said. “He loved her and he loved her the right way.”

Diederich, who had recently lost his father when Searle’s father was dying last summer, shared whiskey with Searle on Zoom and went through what to expect, while on the other end. Searle was in tears.

Sarle said, “It must have been incredibly difficult for him to talk about this with me …

The Diederichs family has set up a GoFundMe. is established To help raise money for his end-of-life celebrations and support his partner Van Rijn.

Details have also emerged about damage to other people from hurricanes and landslides in British Columbia this week.

Vancouver couple Anita and Mirsad Hadzik and Calgary rugby player Steven Taylor were killed in a landslide on Hwy. 99, with an unidentified 47-year-old man from the Lower Mainland.

Ali Azodi, a friend of Hadzix’s since high school, told the Star the couple were returning home to their two-year-old daughter after a romantic weekend in the Okanagan when they were killed in a slide.

“Mirasad was one of my best friends, had the biggest heart and always brought smiles to people’s faces,” Azodi said, adding, “Anita was super-intelligent, kind and an incredible human being.”

He said that the high school goers were “a wonderful couple who loved their daughter more than anything in the world,” and have Founded a GoFundMe to help secure her future.

Steven Taylor, father of four children and grandfather of one, was on his way home from work when he also died in a slide.

A former rugby player, Taylor had moved from Calgary to BC about a year ago for construction work.

Close friend Dean Hopkins said the news of Taylor’s death left him full and upset his stomach.

“There will be hundreds, if not thousands, of rugby buddy players in our city and province who must be feeling exactly the same way.”

With files from the Canadian Press
Lex Harvey is a Toronto-based newsletter creator for the Star and the author of the First Up newsletter. Follow him on Twitter: @lexharvs

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