Skip to main content

The Globe and Mail

Newlywed sawmill survivor believed dead after storm

Sid Neville and his new wife Marley Neville were married just days before the boat incident.


A newlywed who survived a fiery inferno in the Burns Lake, B.C., sawmill explosion with serious burns is being remembered as a fighter and a lifesaver.

Sid Neville is missing and presumed drowned after a storm swamped his boat as he was fishing in the frigid waters of François Lake, 25 kilometres south of Burns Lake, on June 7.

Mr. Neville's 21-year-old nephew said his uncle pushed him onto the overturned hull of the boat, saving his life, but the 35-year old slipped under water himself and did not resurface.

Story continues below advertisement

He survived a blast at the Babine Forest Products sawmill in January, 2011, when two workers died and 19 others were injured.

Just weeks ago, Mr. Neville married his long-time sweetheart.

Dozens of searchers looked for him on the cold lake over the weekend, but the search has been scaled back.

In between bouts of tears, his wife, Marley Neville, said she was hoping the RCMP would ask navy divers to help find her husband's body to "help bring him home."

His mother-in-law, Val White, said Mr. Neville was looking forward to better things after being injured in the sawmill explosion.

"It was a beautiful wedding and he was saying his vows, like he meant every single word, and 13 days later he's gone," Ms. White said through tears. "We can't make any sense of this. Why did this happen?"

Mr. Neville was in hospital for three weeks being treated for burns he suffered in the tragic explosion and recently underwent another skin graft operation.

Story continues below advertisement

"I don't understand it," Ms. White said.

"He was in so much pain and he went through so much. Just the mental anguish he went through trying to recover. He was on his way," she said as her weeping daughter nodded in agreement.

Shelia Lovaf, owner of Sandy's Resort on François Lake, spotted Mr. Neville's nephew on the overturned hull of the boat last Friday.

"This lake can be horrible," she said. "It is actually extremely deep. It can be up to 800 feet deep. It's cold, it's cold all the time."

Report an error

The Globe invites you to share your views. Please stay on topic and be respectful to everyone. For more information on our commenting policies and how our community-based moderation works, please read our Community Guidelines and our Terms and Conditions.

We’ve made some technical updates to our commenting software. If you are experiencing any issues posting comments, simply log out and log back in.

Discussion loading… ✨

Combined Shape Created with Sketch.

Combined Shape Created with Sketch.

Thank you!

You are now subscribed to the newsletter at

You can unsubscribe from this newsletter or Globe promotions at any time by clicking the link at the bottom of the newsletter, or by emailing us at