A mother’s story
by Lilianne Fuller
Just over nine years ago, every mother’s nightmare came true for Lucy McLaughlin. On March 23, 2010 she received an unexpected phone call. Her oldest son, Carl Mulherin was missing.
Originally from New Brunswick, Carl had moved to British Columbia. A keen outdoorsman, he enjoyed snowmobiling in the back-country near his home in Burnaby. He and his friends were avid and experienced snowmobilers who had gone on many expeditions without incident. So, the outing to the Top of the World Glacier, near Pemberton, was not out of the ordinary.
The day started out clear, but later fog began to roll in and the snowmobilers decided to head back, but Mulherin became separated from his three friends. They had followed a trail down a gully while he kept going straight. By the time he realized his mistake, the fog had become so thick that he couldn’t tell which direction he was heading. In addition, his snowmobile had stalled so all he could do was hunker down for the night. “I wasn’t panicked but I was definitely concerned. I wanted to drive out that night, but I knew that it would have been a mistake,” he said. That one night would turn into three before he was rescued.
Meanwhile mom, Lucy McLaughlin, was in Orlando, Florida on a golf holiday with friends when she received the phone call from her ex-husband Berton Mulherin. She immediately knew that something must be very wrong. Mulherin Senior had called to tell her that the RCMP had just left his home to inform him that Carl, their son was missing in a place she’d never heard of, ‘Top of the World Glacier’. Also, it was possible that her son had fallen into a crevasse. She immediately texted her younger sister, Carol Sue, in New Brunswick and asked her to call immediately. “It’s not good news”, she added. McLaughlin relayed what was happening and asked that her other siblings be told of the frightening developments.
After a very long evening and very little sleep, McLaughlin went to the airport to return to New Brunswick. McLaughlin is part of a close-knit family and she knew that if her worst fears were confirmed, she would need their comfort. By now, it had been almost three days since he was missing. Statistics indicate the chances of finding someone alive go down according to how long they are missing. The first night was 50 percent, the second, 25 and the third just 12.5 percent. “Today was the day. They needed to find him…today,” she thought to herself.
McLaughlin was frantic. In January 2000, McLaughlin lost a child to illness, her daughter Julie Mulherin passed away at the age of 22. She couldn’t stand to lose another child. The lowering survival rate reverberated through her mind. A Roman Catholic, McLaughlin started praying. When the plane landed, she turned on her cell phone and immediately it started to ring! It was good news! After a miraculous break in the weather, her son had been found alive and well by Search and Rescue. She finally allowed the emotion she had been holding back to flow. “I held my head in my hands and cried.”
Because New Brunswick and British Columbia are so far apart, an in-person visit for Mother’s Day wasn’t possible. But for mother and son, the first Mother’s Day since the incident was especially poignant. “That first Mothers’ Day after my snowmobile adventure, was not lost on me. I realized I was lucky to be alive. After what my family had been through, especially my mom and dad, it was a surreal but wonderful experience to wish her a Happy Mothers’ Day,” said Carl. “I was so appreciative hearing Carl’s voice as well as the voices of my other two children, Kenny and Wendy. Circumstances can certainly change in the blink of an eye,” added Lucy McLaughlin.