Photo Of The Day

Photo: John and Jackie Knill, Courtesy of Knill family.

Photo: John and Jackie Knill, Courtesy of Knill family.

 Last Shot On The Memory Card

On December 31, 2004, the body of John Knill was found; and on January 13, 2005, the body of Jackie Knill was discovered at a Thailand beach resort. They were two of the many victims killed from the December 26, 2004 tsunami. Weeks later, a Seattle man doing relief work found a damaged camera and discarded it but kept the memory card in the camera. After downloading the images he discovered pictures of the Knills enjoying their vacation, as well as shots of a huge wave approaching the shore. With each picture it shows the wave getting closer and closer to shore. The last picture taken of them before the wave hit (shown above) was shot just after 8.30 am on December 26.

John Knill and Jackie Knill, from North Vancouver, Canada, loved to visit Thailand; they considered it a second home. And for their Christmas vacation in 2004, they decided to visit Khao Lak, Thailand, a beautiful area of the country with wonderful beaches, and a place that they had visited many times before.

John and Jackie were enjoying a great vacation and called their children on December 25 to wish them a wonderful Christmas.

On the following day, they got up early in the morning to go to the beach. It was a magnificent day and they were ready to relax. They brought their digital camera with them and were taking pictures when they saw a large wave in the distance. Unaware of the impending danger, they started to take some photographs of the large wave.

Many other people were on the beach, enjoying the morning, also unaware that the large “wave” was actually a tsunami.

As the wave hit the shore, John and Jackie took one final picture. And then they were swept away by the tsunami, along with everyone else on the beach.

The couple’s three children, Patrick, David and Christian, became deeply concerned after hearing that the tsunami had struck Khao Lak; they did not hear from their parents for several days and feared for the worst.

So John Knill’s brother-in-law traveled to Thailand to search for the couple.

Sadly, On December 31, 2004, the body of John Knill was found; and on January 13, 2005, the body of Jackie Knill was found.

An American Baptist missionary, Christian Pilet, 40, traveled to Thailand with some colleagues about a month after the tsunami struck. Walking along a beach in Khao Lak, Pilet found a destroyed digital camera — but the memory card appeared undamaged.

Pilet took the memory card with him back to his motel and viewed the pictures on his laptop. He saw pictures of a couple, and several pictures of the tsunami. The last picture, the one that showed the tsunami covering the beach, deeply upset Pilet.

“It was stunning,” he said. “I thought there was no way you could take that picture and survive.”

Pilet knew that he needed to find the family of this couple and give them the pictures. So when he returned to his home in Seattle, Washington, he and his wife launched an Internet search. They saw a picture of the Knills on a website for missing people, and Pilet sent an e-mail with one of the photos.

The Knill brothers confirmed that the picture was of their parents.

“It was [disquieting] to see [the pictures],” said Patrick Knill. “But I’m glad we have them. I can sleep better at night.”

Patrick was glad to see the pictures of his parents that were taken days before the tsunami hit. “They were having a great time. They loved that place. It was their great escape.”

Patrick said he still doesn’t know exactly how his parents died, but now has a better picture in his mind.

“There was nothing they could do,” he said. “Maybe they chose to sit there at a place they loved.”

At the time Pilet presented the photos to their sons, he said he felt compelled to answer their one nagging question: Why didn’t their parents just run?

“I walked that beach. There was really nowhere for them to run to,” he said. “Initially, it probably didn’t even cross their mind to get away. At the point they took that last picture, they had to have known — but by then it was too late.”

John and Jackie Knill were both 54.

John was a songwriter and music studio owner. He began his musical career in the 1970s. He co-founded the Canadian jazz-fusion group Passage in the 1990s and was the producer for many outstanding Canadian musical artists, including gospel singer Marcus Mosley.

Jackie was a talented painter who was specialized in watercolours.

by Kevin Caruso

Tsunamis.com

Photos


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