Posted on 24 August 2011 by admin
OSOYOOS TIMES-August 24, 2011
By Paul Everest – Osoyoos Times
Police are still considering charges against the drivers of two boats involved in a fatal collision on Osoyoos Lake on the evening of Aug. 16.
An 18-year-old Mission man was killed while on an inner tube with two friends being towed behind a boat when the tube he was on was struck by another boat driven by a 27-year-old Alberta man.
Police were called to the Safari Beach Resort at the intersection of Oleander Drive and 89th Street at about 9:15 p.m. after the collision was reported.
The crash took place on the south side of the lake near Haynes Point Provincial Park, police reported, but witnesses at the scene said the boat towing the inner tube came to the resort after the crash as the resort’s lights were highly visible from the middle of the lake.
Police said the victim was tubing in the dark and was riding the tube with two other 18-year-old men from Mission.
A fourth 18-year-old Mission man was driving the boat towing the tube, a 20-foot Bayliner Karavan Bowrider.
At roughly 9 p.m., a 15-foot Stingray boat driven by the Alberta man struck the inner tube.
Witnesses said the driver of the Bowrider was able to pull the trio of men who had been on the tube into his boat and headed to shore.
Although the victim was dead before he reached the shore, the other two men were not injured, police said.
Five other people were in the Stingray, police said, including another man and four women.
Police are considering charges of dangerous operation of a vessel causing death for the driver of the Stingray.
Charges may also be considered against the operator of the Bowrider, police said, as it appears that he was allegedly operating the boat without a licence, without lights and without a required spotter.
Both drivers were released from custody last week.
Police are also looking into whether alcohol was a factor in the crash and both boats are being inspected for mechanical deficiencies.
The name of the deceased has not been released.
Two ambulances and a number of RCMP vehicles were in the resort’s parking lot for most of the evening and a number of people who were visibly upset were taken from the scene to the Osoyoos RCMP detachment office.
None of the people involved were staying at the resort, witnesses said.
The management of the Safari Beach Resort held a meeting with resort guests on the morning of Aug. 17 to discuss the incident and to help find counselling services for any guests needing them.
Although the management declined to comment on the incident, they did say those who responded to the emergency, including a doctor staying at the resort who attended to the victim when he came ashore, were extremely professional and helpful to those involved in the crash and witnesses at the resort.
Stephen Blair, who lives on Harbour Key Drive, said he observed the boat that was towing the tube just off Solana Key roughly 40 minutes before the crash.
He said he was stargazing on his deck with relatives when he noticed the boat come out of the lagoon, adding that the four men aboard appeared to be partying and loud music was coming from the boat.
At first it seemed the men were bringing the boat home for the night, Blair said, but then one of the men got in the inner tube and the boat took off towards the southwest part of the lake.
There were no lights visible on the boat, he added.
Blair said he thought the men were “crazy” for going tubing in the dark.
He said that between 9 and 9:15 p.m. he heard a loud thud out on the lake but he could not see what had caused the noise.
Staff Sgt. Kurt Lozinski, commander of the Osoyoos RCMP, said that as tragic as the crash was, police will not be changing the way they monitor the lake due to this “unfortunate yet preventable isolated incident.”
“Unfortunately, the police cannot be everywhere and people will continue to make poor choices regardless of how much enforcement or presence we show on our lakes,” he said in an email. “This year we have had more enforcement and patrols than ever on our lakes.”
Just days before the crash, Osoyoos RCMP and Transport Canada conducted a weekend safety enforcement blitz on the lake that resulted in one violation ticket being issued to a boat operator who did not have a pleasure craft operator’s card on board and was missing a number of approved personal flotation devices.
Three other boats were escorted to shore during the August 12 to 13 blitz and 25 warnings were issued to boat operators.
According to RCMP statistics, police have dealt with 22 incidents province-wide this year of dangerous operation of a boat or aircraft, including 11 cases in the Southeast District which includes Osoyoos, but this crash, if charges are approved, would be the first alleged incident of impaired operation of a boat due to alcohol that has caused a death.
In July of 2008, four people were injured when a boat struck a sandbar on Osoyoos Lake after dark.
The driver of the boat, an Osoyoos man, pleaded guilty last year to two counts of dangerous driving causing bodily harm and was sentenced to one year of probation and a one-year prohibition from driving.
At the time of the crash, police said the driver gave a breath sample that was twice the legal blood-alcohol limit.