Houseboat's lights were off, speedboat driver says
The driver of a speedboat that crashed into a houseboat on B.C.'s Shuswap Lake over the weekend, killing one man, says the houseboat didn't have its lights on.
Fifty-three-year-old Ken Brown of Anglemont, B.C., was killed after an 18 foot Campion speedboat slammed head first into the 40 foot houseboat he was driving, embedding the boat deeply inside. Thirteen people were on board the houseboat, while three others were in the speedboat.
Eight people were taken to Royal Inland Hospital in Kamloops with injuries ranging from minor bruises to fractures and head injuries. A man and a woman remain in hospital with non-life threatening injuries.
CTV News spoke with the speedboat's driver, who is known as "Leon the painter" in the North Shuswap area.
He said he watched Brown die.
"He died in my arms…. I feel terrible. What else can I say?" Leon said.
But that doesn't mean he's taking the blame for the crash -- he says that Brown was operating the houseboat without any lights.
"We hit something in the dark. We did not know what it was."
In Pictures: B.C. fatal houseboat crash
The regional director for North Shuswap said people often boat while intoxicated on the popular lake and many people defy existing boating regulations because of a lack of law enforcement.
"Going really fast, ignoring other people around them, driving without lights and going to close to swimmers -- it's a constant complaint in the summertime," Denis Delisle told CTV News Channel.
Delisle says the remote location of the lake in relation to B.C.'s Okanagan, another prime destination for summer boating, makes it easier for people to break the rules.
"We're much further north so it allows people who can flout the laws if they want to," he said.
RCMP's West Coast marine services and the Transportation Safety Board (TSB) are now investigating the Saturday night crash -- that happened soon after a Canada Day fireworks display wrapped up in Magna Bay near Chase.
Witnesses told CTV News not all of the hundreds of boats on the water were driving safely.
"[People were] being stupid…racing around and making donuts," said Shelley Robertson.
Police are examining whether speed may be a factor in the crash.
"This vessel would not have ended up inside, literally inside of the houseboat if it wouldn't have been going at a reasonable pace," said Sgt. Troy Beauregard.
The houseboat was towed back to a local marina with the speedboat still lodged inside all the way to its back motor.
RCMP say based on the crash scene it's amazing the accident did not turn out worse.
"It's miraculous that there were no more people killed or seriously injured," Sgt. Beauregard said.
"I've spoken with people who've lived out there their entire lives, people from the Coroner's service and Transport Canada and they've never seen anything like it."
Denis Delisle calls the accident tragic.
"You dread what could happen, what could have happened, and unfortunately this is the worst case scenario."
A detailed forensic examination of both boats is expected.
With files from CTV British Columbia's Kent Molgat