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The Sacrament: The Incredible Story of Brent…

The Sacrament: The Incredible Story of Brent Dyer and Donna Johnson

by Peter Gzowski

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I used to listen to Peter Gzowski on CBC as much as I could. Given that I was working full time that wasn't much but the times I did catch him it was always worth it. In his obituary it was said he did 27,000 interviews during his time at Morningside. Gzowski knew just how to ask the questions the listener wanted to ask. And in writing this book he found out the information the reader would be wanting to know.

This book tells the story of a young man and woman from Estevan who survived a plane crash in Idaho. The other two people in the plane did not survive. The pilot, Norm Pischke, sustained a bad head injury and seemed disoriented. He left the plane when he thought he saw vehicles and never returned. The other person who died was Don Johnson, father of Donna and father-in-law of Brent Dyer, the survivors of the crash. He lived for a few hours after the crash, long enough to take his jacket off and put it over Donna so she would be warm. Donna and Brent were both badly hurt but after a few days they were able to walk around a bit. An inventory of their assets showed they didn't have much in the way of food and hardly any water. While an air search was mounted for them they eked out their food and tried to stay warm. When all their resources had run out they realized they would have to eat some of Don Johnson's body to stay alive.

There are parallels to the South American soccer players who crashed in the Andes whose story was told by Piers Paul Read in Alive. Gzowski discusses that event and other instances of cannibalism. As he points out there is no criminal nor moral wrong in eating another person when that person died of natural causes and the situation for food is dire. I remember reading Alive and wondering then what I would do in that situation. I believed I would probably eat human meat if I thought I could survive by doing so. However, in that case (at least as I recall) the survivors were not related to the dead people. The idea of eating parts of a relative, let alone a father, seems horrific to me. Donna and Brent were sustained by a belief in God and they felt that God would not have let them survive the crash only to die of starvation.

The two were not particularly religious before the crash but up there on the mountain top they discovered a deep connection to God. It certainly does appear that they were guided in the path they chose out of the mountains after they decided they would never be found if they stayed with the plane. Nineteen days after the plane went down Brent and Donna walked into an old mining camp near Challis Idaho and told the incredulous owners who they were.

This was a very interesting read that should make you ponder what you would do if you were in an accident. Hopefully, I'll never have to face that in person. ( )
  gypsysmom | Aug 9, 2017 |
Four people flew out of Estevan, SK but crashed. The two survivors - Donna Johnson, seventeen-year-old, and her brother-in-law, Brent Dyer were seriously injured and in pain. They were stranded in a remote mountain region in sub-zero weather with summer-weight clothes, little food and no source of heat. This is the true story of Donna Johnson's and Brent Dyer's fight to live, the search for them and the reaction to how they survived. ( )
  HelenGress | Sep 7, 2013 |
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