By Chris Parker
Just before 3:30 p.m. on January 2, long time realtor and McBride resident Al Miller was killed in an automobile accident near the Purden Lake Ski Hill, about an hour and a half west of McBride. While Al was killed in the accident, Marge Sansom, his long term partner was largely uninjured and was able to return to McBride later that evening thanks to another unwitting participant in the five-vehicle tragedy. Al was the only one killed. Contrary to reports elsewhere, Al was wearing his seatbelt and was not responsible for the multi-vehicle accident other than as an unfortunate victim. This is the second accident on that stretch of Highway 16 which has resulted in the loss of a McBride resident within just two months, something which we hope is reviewed by the Provincial Highways Department.
Al, the middle of three Miller brothers, was originally from Creston, BC and came to live in the McBride area at the beginning of the 90’s. Initially he worked for the TRC Mill owned by his long time friend Tom Ryan. While Al has been active in Real Estate circles over the last 10 years, first with RE/MAX and more recently Valemount Realty, he has also been a restaurateur and has managed the start up of another lumber enterprise.
During the last almost 25 years as a McBride resident he has been active in many community activities including stints as Chairman of the Chamber of Commerce, a member of the Elks club, Chair of the local snowmobile club and various other community endeavors.
Two of his closest friends, Tom Ryan and Don Smith are both devastated with the loss. Both say they thought of Al much as a family member. Tom indeed suggested that Al was like an uncle to Tom’s three sons and would be missed. Their friendship began in Creston, went north to Grand Prairie and then to McBride when Al followed him to McBride to work at TRC. Al was actually Best Man for Tom and Shelly for their 1990 wedding. Don Smith came into town most days for coffee or a meal with Al and said their friendship of nearly 25 years would be memories he and his wife would treasure. The three friends frequently camped together.