‘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

Get local stories you won't find anywhere else right to your inbox.
Sign up here

Just Posted

Lithium-ion battery fire damages suite in Nanaimo

One man displaced from home after battery for radio-controlled toy bursts into flame while charging

Nanaimo pianist and future doctor honoured for ‘excellence in culture’

Devon Joiner is among this year’s City of Nanaimo Culture and Heritage Award winners

Volunteers on Vancouver Island checking in on seniors during pandemic

United Way reports 2,600 phone check-ins and 1,300 ‘virtual visits’

Nanaimo mayor, in his work as a lawyer, named in lawsuit over client’s will

Leonard Krog administrator of an estate being challenged under the Wills, Estates and Succession Act

B.C. Ferries says Departure Bay-Horseshoe Bay sailings filling up fast

Tsawwassen-Duke Point may be a better alternative between June 4 and 7, says ferry corporation

March dental conference key to many of B.C.’s COVID-19 cases

Early infections from China, Iran were quickly contained

Beefs & Bouquets, June 3

To submit a beef or a bouquet to the Nanaimo News Bulletin, e-mail editor@nanaimobulletin.com

Cortes Island affordable housing project hangs by a thread

Regional decision makers resort to COVID-19 concerns despite virtual meeting option and push hearing to September

Facing changes together: Your community, your journalists

The COVID-19 pandemic has changed the world in ways that would have… Continue reading

MAP: Dr. Henry reveals which B.C. regions have seen most COVID-19 cases

B.C. health officials release a first look at how the novel coronavirus has reached all corners of the province

North Island recreation camping site closed due to vandalism

Damage happens every year, forcing site manager to reallocate improvement budget to repairs

Tla-o-qui-aht First Nation woman, 26, fatally shot by police in Edmundston, N.B.

Police were conducting a well-being check at the time of the incident

Seniors to receive up to $500 in promised COVID-19 emergency aid in early July

The Liberal government first promised the extra help in mid-May, but had to create a new system to deliver the aid

VIDEO: Revelstoke bear wanders into Animal House pet store

Staff got ready to chase it out with a broom

Most Read