‘It’s up to us: Recently-returned B.C. couple urges Canadians to take COVID-19 seriously

Garrett Kucher and Tory Apostoliuk make it home after almost a week of lockdown in Spain

The odyssey is almost over for a West Kootenay couple that was under lockdown in Spain earlier this month.

Greater Trail’s Garrett Kucher travelled to Europe to play in Spain’s Evolve Pro Golf Tour. While at his apartment in Murcia on Mar. 14, he and his partner Victoria (Tori) Apostoliuk, of Castlegar, were caught in a mandatory quarantine due to the outbreak of the coronavirus.

Efforts to contact the Canadian consulate proved futile the weekend the lockdown started, however, with the help of South Okanagan-Kootenay MP Richard Cannings, by the following Tuesday the couple reached the consulate by phone. They were subsequently emailed a letter in English giving them permission to travel and leave the country … if they were able.

“We had to prove that we had outgoing flights, and they didn’t guide us saying which airport to go to or anything like that,” said Kucher. “It kind of made Tori and I realize that we got this letter and either we look for flights and give this a go, or we just accept the fact that we’re stuck and going to stay.”

READ MORE: West Kootenay couple caught up in Spain lockdown

READ MORE: Greater Trail golfer ready to play for Tour cards

As the couple scanned through overpriced flights, they eventually booked two tickets from Valencia to Frankfurt, Ger. and then to Canada. They quickly stored their belongings in a locker, and got packed.

About a three-hour drive on army-patrolled roads led them north to Valencia and the airport, with ample time to check extra bags and board the flight to Frankfurt.

But they weren’t out of the woods yet.

“When we arrived, we looked up at the board and every flight said, ‘CANCELLED’,” said Kucher. “But lucky our flight wasn’t up there, and we just looked at each other and said, ‘Really? that’s a good sign, right?’”

The next challenge was checking extra bags and his golf clubs, which almost didn’t make it, as hazmat-suited workers sprayed the waiting area, and others swabbed their palms, and checked each passenger for signs of COVID-19. The hopeful couple made their way through security and to the boarding area, where the airline attendant noticed that the flight from Frankfurt to Canada departed more than the mandatory 24 hours after their arrival.

“They asked for our passports and boarding passes, and scanned it, then said okay, ‘Step aside please,’” explained Kucher. “They wouldn’t let us get on the plane, because our flight was greater than 24 hours apart. Our flight left Valencia at 12:30 and left Germany the next day at 1:30.”

As they watched their bags unloaded from the plane, an anxious Garrett and Tori pointed out that by the time they arrived in Frankfurt it would be more than two hours later, and so less than the proscribed 24 hours.

“Finally she goes, ‘Okay, okay’ and lets us on the plane, 10 minutes after it was suppose to be in the air. But honestly, I didn’t care if the plane did somersaults into Frankfurt, I was just happy to be on that flight and leaving Spain.”

The rest of the journey home went pretty smoothly for Garrett and Tori, as they were checked and rechecked for any symptoms at every turn and step of the way.

The couple was picked up at the airport by Garrett’s mom, Nona, on Mar. 20 and are now staying at her house in Castlegar, all three currently under a self-imposed, 14-day quarantine.

Spain continues to be under lockdown, with it’s coronavirus numbers among the highest in Europe.

Garrett and Tori were exhausted from the ordeal and the jetlag, but relieved to be back home, where family has been dropping off meals at the door and reconnecting from a safe distance.

“We want people to understand how serious it really is,” said Kucher. “We landed on Canadian soil and we will not leave our house for two weeks. It’s a real thing. The quicker we take the precautions that the health authorities are telling us to take, the quicker it’s going to blow over, and, really, it’s not up to anybody else, it’s up to us.

“If it was a month of quarantine, we’d do it in a heartbeat, we’re just super happy to be home.”



sports@trailtimes.ca

Like us on Facebook and follow us on Twitter

Coronavirus

Just Posted

‘Every day is a new feeling’: Jackie Bates adjusts to her new life, and new lungs

Ladysmith woman’s life has changed for the better since receiving a double lung transplant on July 15

How the pandemic ushered in a marketing evolution at a B.C. aquaculture firm

For Grieg Seafood BC it meant pivoting fish to parallel markets without halting production

Kayaking the Johnstone Strait

An unpredictable delight for local travelers

Body discovered floating in water near Lasqueti Island

JRCC reports fishing vessel personnel made the find on Saturday, Sept. 19

Patrick brothers pioneered hockey and tried, but failed, to remove violence

New history thesis shows their efforts to sell a “clean game” in Oak Bay

B.C. or Ontario? Residential school survivors fight move of court battle

It’s now up to Ontario’s Court of Appeal to sort out the venue question

B.C. transportation minister will not seek re-election

Claire Trevena has held the position since 2017

B.C. migrant, undocumented workers rally for permanent residency program

Rally is part of the Amnesty for Undocumented Workers Campaign led by the Migrant Workers Centre

Preparations underway for pandemic election in Saskatchewan and maybe B.C.

Administrators in B.C. and around the country are also looking to expand voting by mail during the pandemic

Nearly 20 per cent of COVID-19 infections among health-care workers by late July

WHO acknowledged the possibility that COVID-19 might be spread in the air under certain conditions

Water supplies declared safe in wake of major tire fire near Ladysmith

Concerns about water quality arose after Sept. 10 scrap yard fire at Schnitzer near Nanaimo Airport

Hundreds march against location of Duncan safe injection site

A Voice for Our Children opposes centre being near schools, recreation sites

Suspect robs store, stabs clerk in Courtenay

Comox Valley RCMP are looking for suspect in Ryan Road incident

Metchosin inmate sentenced to 12 months in jail for escaping custody

Sentence to be served concurrent to a life sentence he was already serving

Most Read