By Tim Petruk, Kamloops This Week
A Kamloops court heard that a speedboat that crashed into a houseboat on Shuswap Lake in 2010 had been zig-zagging at a high rate of speed before colliding head-on with the other vessel, killing the man piloting the houseboat.
Leon Reinbrecht, who the Crown says was behind the wheel of the speedboat at the time of the crash, is facing one count each of criminal negligence causing the death of Ken Brown and criminal negligence causing bodily harm.
His trial in B.C. Supreme Court began on Tuesday, Feb. 10.
Crown prosecutor Neil Flanagan said Reinbrecht had been with a group of people watching post-Canada Day fireworks on the lake on July 3, 2010. The fireworks ended at 11 p.m., Flanagan said, after which Reinbrecht dropped off three passengers on the shore.
Reinbrecht, his son and his son’s girlfriend then went back out on the water, Flanagan said, “travelling in a back-and-forth manner.”
The collision between the two boats took place at about 11:15 p.m.
“Mr. Reinbrecht’s boat collided head-on with the houseboat, coming to rest fully inside the main galley of the house boat,” Flanagan said, noting the force of the crash threw Brown inside the speedboat’s bow.
Reinbrecht and his passengers were stuck inside the wreckage for nearly two hours. Brown’s body wasn’t removed until 2:20 a.m.
Flanagan, calling the scene “chaotic,” said Reinbrecht told a paramedic on the shore that Brown was alive until 12:30 a.m.
Christie Nelson, whose family has a cabin in the area, was sitting with a group of friends at a bonfire near the shore after the fireworks ended.
“I heard the sound of a boat going very fast,” she testified.
“I heard a loud sound, like you can tell the speed of a boat by the sound.”
Nelson told court she stood up after hearing the boat’s engine.
“Then I saw a speedboat coming quickly toward Magna Bay,” she said.
“In my mind, it was something that was unusual. It was a really dark night and it was unusual to have a boat travelling so fast for the conditions.
“I exclaimed to my friends at the fire, ‘Why is this person going so fast? They’re going too fast. They can’t see anything.’”
“What happened next?” Flanagan asked.
“We heard a really, really loud crash,” Nelson replied.
“It went from a low rumbling noise to a high-pitched whirring noise with the engine out of the water.”
Nelson said her brother and husband boarded the family boat and went to the crash site with flashlights and life jackets.
The Crown expects to call 50 witnesses during the trial, which is slated to run into mid-March.
Crown’s timeline of fatal Shuswap boat crash on July 3, 2010:
10:30 p.m.: Post-Canada Day fireworks on Shuswap Lake at Magna Bay, lasting 30 minutes and attended by hundreds of people in hundreds of boats and on the shoreline
11:15 p.m.: Motorboat piloted by Leon Reinbrecht crashes head-on with house boat piloted by Ken Brown, lodging inside galley of house boat
11:19 p.m.: 911 called
11:52 p.m.: RCMP arrive at scene
12 a.m.: B.C. Ambulance arrives
12:15 a.m.: Houseboat/motorboat towed to shore
12:15 a.m.: Chase Fire Rescue arrives
12:30 a.m.: Brown, not yet free from wreckage, dies of his injuries
1:10 a.m.: Reinbrecht and his two passengers, none of whom were seriously injured, are extricated from wreckage
1:15 a.m.: Paramedic enters wreckage and confirms Brown is dead
2:05 a.m.: After talking with police, Reinbrecht taken away in B.C. Ambulance
2:20 a.m.: Brown’s body removed from wreckage
3:15 a.m.: Reinbrecht arrives at Royal Inland Hospital