Boat crash death ruled accidental

Houseboat/speedboat collision: Decision on criminal charges rests with Crown.

Aftermath: Police investigate the July 2010 crash which left one man dead and a speedboat embedded inside a houseboat.

Although a coroner has designated the death of a man killed in a houseboat/speedboat collision as ‘accidental,’ the ruling is separate from the criminal investigation.

The BC Coroners Service just released a report on the death of 53-year-old Kenneth William Brown of Chase, the driver of a houseboat who was killed when a speedboat crashed head-on with it about 11:20 p.m. on July 3, 2010. The collision occurred as boats were leaving Magna Bay in Shuswap Lake following the Canada Day weekend fireworks display.

The coroner’s conclusion stated: “I find that Kenneth William Brown died on Shuswap Lake near Anglemont on July 3, 2010, of multiple blunt force trauma sustained in a motor vehicle (boating) incident. I classify this death as accidental.”

The coroner’s investigative findings state the houseboat was 200 metres offshore with its lights on when it was struck.

“Mr. Brown was standing to the left of the helm when the powerboat entered, causing him to be thrown up and inside the powerboat as it continued to lodge itself further in the houseboat. Witnesses state he was conscious and speaking as the boat turned to shore, but he soon succumbed to his injuries.”

Regional coroner for the Interior, Mark Coleman, said coroners don’t look to fault when classifying a death. They use five categories: natural, accidental, suicide, homicide or undetermined. Accidental, he said, refers to a death that is unintentional. Homicide, in coroners’ terms, refers to a death that is intentional.

“If there’s sufficient evidence someone had intentionally driven a boat to harm someone, then that’s homicide,” he explained.

Asked if it’s usual to release a ruling before a police investigation is complete, he said, “Because our focus is different, it shouldn’t have any impact on a police investigation.”

Sometimes coroners will make recommendations, but not in this case. Coleman said, as an example, if there were no laws in place regarding licensing of boat operators, and if a coroner thought such a law might reduce the likelihood of such an incident occurring again, then he or she might make a recommendation about licensing.

“All I can really say in this case, the coroner didn’t find anything that prompted her to make any recommendations.”

Meanwhile, Kamloops Crown counsel Don Mann is reviewing evidence provided by police to determine whether charges are appropriate. He said once he reviews the file, the final decision will be made by the regional Crown counsel.

Mann is not sure when his review will be complete and forwarded.

“It’s a bit difficult at this point to know – it might be another couple of weeks, perhaps even more.”

It’s not known either how long the regional Crown will need in order to make a final decision.

Cpl. Mark Skotnicki of Chase RCMP said the detachment provided Crown with volumes of material.

“They received a truckload of information, copious quantities that will require sifting and sorting through so they ultimately can decide on what charges…”2011-09-21



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