Nick Trask and Ryan Ellison died in a boat accident on Osoyoos Lake in 2019. (Facebook photo)

Coroner cites meth use, high speed in boating deaths of Maple Ridge men

Pair were killed after colliding with another boat on Osoyoos Lake

The use of meth, excessive speed and poor visibility contributed to the boating death of two Maple Ridge men in the Okanagan during the summer of 2019, says a coroner’s report.

Nicholas Brendan Trask, 36, and Peter Ryan Ellison, 35, died in the boating accident on Osoyoos Lake on June 8, 2019, after the boat they were driving collided with another boat and sunk.

The cause of the deaths was multiple blunt force injuries, the coroner found.

“Use of methamphetamine by the boat operator, excessive speed of the vessel for the reduced visibility created by the sun, and the failure of the other vessel to give way were contributing factors,” wrote coroner Andrew Cave in his conclusion.

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Ellison, who was driving the boat, was found to have used meth. A toxicology examination detected no substances in Trask.

The crash occurred just after 7 p.m., when the sun’s reflection on the lake would have significantly reduced Ellison’s visibility, the coroner’s report found. The report also said Ellison’s boat, a 1975 Cobra Lopeo Ski, was travelling at approximately 100 km/hour.

When emergency crews arrived the Trask-Ellison boat had completely sunk, and the other vessel was partially submerged. There were three occupants of the other vessel, who were taken to hospital with serious injuries.

Two days after the crash, the RCMP underwater diving team recovered Ellison’s boat and found the two men still inside. Ellison was found still seated at the helm, indicating he was the operator of the boat at the time of the collision.

The coroner found Ellison did not possess a Pleasure Craft Operator Card, which is required to operate the boat he was driving. Ellison’s family later reported the boat was his, and he was familiar with its operation.

Ellison’s boat had been travelling northwest. The other boat, a 2008 North River Pursuit, was travelling northeast across the lake at just under under 50 km/hour. According to navigation rules for water vessels, the North River was the “give-way vessel” and the Cobra was the “stand-on vessel,” but ultimately both boats were responsible to take evasive action to avoid a collision.

Investigation showed that neither boat took action to avoid collision. The crash caused Ellison’s boat to sink immediately.

Cave classified the deaths as accidental, and made no recommendations.

– With files Penticton Western News

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