By Tim Petruk,Kamloops This Week
A Kamloops firefighter was “in shock” when he saw a speedboat driving fast on a busy Shuswap Lake following a fireworks display in 2010, a judge has heard.
Michael Wallace was testifying at the trial of Leon Reinbrecht, who is charged with one count each of criminal negligence causing death and criminal negligence causing bodily harm stemming from a crash in Magna Bay that killed Ken Brown.
A speedboat alleged to have been operated by Reinbrecht collided with a houseboat piloted by Brown, becoming fully lodged inside the houseboat’s main galley.
Wallace, who was on vacation in the Shuswap on July 3, 2010, said he remarked to a friend that the speedboat was driving at “killing speed,” and that someone was going to die.
“I probably said quite a few things, quite a few profanities,” he said, noting he witnessed the speedboat pull a fast U-turn before heading back toward Magna Bay.
“It’s a total disregard for any night-time driving. I was in shock to see it.
“I remember how odd that was to see at that time.
“To me, it was doing top speed or near top speed.”
Ronald Swift said he saw 40 boats on the water in Magna Bay during the fireworks, after which he also saw the speedboat on the lake while building a bonfire with Wallace.
“We could hear the engine, loud,” he said, noting dozens of boats were headed toward Anglemont in the dark following the fireworks display. We looked out and we saw a boat heading in the same direction as all the other boats, moving east, moving fast. It sounded like a boat you’d hear during the day going by.”
Swift said he then saw the boat make “an abrupt turn” and begin to head back into traffic at a high speed.
“We just looked at each other and said, ‘He’s going to run into somebody,’ because there’s just so many boats out there,” he said.
“It alarmed us. We just knew that nothing good could come out of it from the way he was driving.
“It sounded like perhaps it may have been wide-open throttle after he came out of the turn.”
Swift said he heard “a loud bang” 10 seconds later.
“And then we could hear the boat out of the water,” he said.
“You could hear the engine revving very high — and then silence, and then you could hear people screaming for help.”
Swift said he and Wallace then started running along the beach to get closer to the crash.
“Somebody on the houseboat was screaming for help, that they had a baby with them,” he said. “I saw two or three people up on the top deck of the house boat, and then we just started running down to get closer.”
Reinbrecht’s trial got underway in early February but has been plagued by delays to give lawyers time to sort out disclosure issues.
It’s expected to run into April, with a two-week break later this month because of a conflict in the schedule of B.C. Supreme Court Justice Sheri Donegan.