Expert says boat not travelling at top speed

The speedboat that collided with a houseboat, leaving one man dead, could have been travelling as slowly as 32 km/h, a judge has been told.

  • May. 26, 2015 12:00 p.m.

A speedboat embedded in a houseboat following a 2010 crash in Magna Bay

By Tim Petruk, Kamloops This Week

The speedboat that collided with a houseboat on Shuswap Lake in 2010, leaving one man dead, could have been travelling as slowly as 32 km/h, a judge has been told.

Leon Reinbrecht’s trial in B.C. Supreme Court in Kamloops resumed yesterday after a month-long break.

Reinbrecht is charged with one count each of criminal negligence causing death and criminal negligence causing bodily harm stemming from a fatal collision on Magna Bay on July 3, 2010.

Ken Brown was killed when his houseboat was struck nearly head-on by Reinbrecht’s speedboat.

Reinbrecht does not deny operating the speedboat, but his lawyers have argued the houseboat was not properly lit prior to the nighttime crash.

The trial, which began in early February, has heard from witnesses who claim to have seen a speedboat driving erratically, zig-zagging and doing high-speed doughnuts before the collision.

One witness claimed to have heard the speedboat at full throttle seconds before the crash. Taking the stand yesterday, however, mechanical engineer Timothy Leggatt said there is nothing to indicate the speedboat was travelling anywhere near its top speed of 72 km/h when it hit the houseboat.

Based on the damage caused to the inside of the houseboat, Leggatt, an expert in vehicle collisions testifying for the defence, believes the speedboat was at the lower end of its planing speed, likely 32 km/h, when the collision took place. Leggatt admitted it is difficult to determine the speed of either boat.

“It’s not a case where you can calculate the speed, with precision, of either vessel,” he said.

“You can make assumptions.”

Leggatt said he based his opinion largely on the fact the 4,000-pound speedboat’s propeller caused minimal damage to the aluminum structure of the houseboat.

The trial is expected to conclude this week.

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