No blood sample taken from driver in fatal boat crash
Investigators will never know how much alcohol was in the blood of the driver of a speedboat involved in a fatal crash in B.C.'s Interior last month because no blood sample was taken.
Leon Reinbrecht was driving the boat that crashed into a houseboat on Shuswap Lake on July 3. The houseboat's driver Ken Brown was killed in the crash.
According to a search warrant filed at a Kamloops court, police found at least 27 empty beer and vodka cooler cans when they searched Reinbrecht's boat, and an officer smelled alcohol on his breath when they spoke.
But RCMP Cpl. Dan Moskaluk says that staff at Royal Inland Hospital didn't take a blood sample from Reinbrecht to determine his blood alcohol level at the time of the crash, something police only discovered when they presented the hospital with a warrant for the sample.
"We were advised by the hospital that said samples existed, and we therefore included that in the information to obtain. This was erroneous, as we all know at this point," Moskaluk said.
But the hospital's administrator Marg Brown said that staff followed proper procedure.
"I am comfortable and confident that our staff followed the processes that are in place," she said.
While Brown said she couldn't comment specifically on what happened on the day of the crash, she said that there are two options for obtaining blood from patients when police require it for legal reasons.
First, hospital staff will ask the patient to give his or her consent for a sample.
"If the patient refuses to give consent, then the peace officer can present us with a warrant," Brown said.
Police say demanding a blood sample wasn't an option.
"We did not have enough grounds to read the breath demands, so in essence to compel him into submitting a blood sample," Moskaluk said.
The lack of a blood sample means that Reinbrecht cannot be charged with driving over the legal limit.
But it doesn't preclude an impaired driving charge, or even a more serious charges, such as criminal negligence causing death.
Vancouver criminal lawyer Terry LaLiberte says the police are now missing the most important piece of evidence for their investigation.
But, he added, "There are other ways of proving it, in terms of observations of what they were actually doing at the time."
Despite the setback, police say their investigation is on track, and is expected to wrap up in a matter of weeks.
Once the investigation is complete, Reinbrecht will know for sure if he faces any charges.
With a report from CTV British Columbia's Kent Molgat