Charges finally laid in boating death

Man who allegedly struck and killed a tuber on Osoyoos Lake now facing five counts

Marco Corbin

Marco Corbin

Criminal charges have finally  been laid almost three years after Marco Corbin was killed while tubing on Osoyoos Lake.

Ryan William Symington, who was 27 at the time of the alleged incident, has been charged with impaired driving causing death, dangerous driving causing death, failure to stop at an accident, care or control of a vessel with over .08 and attempt to obstruct justice.

Bob Corbin, the deceased’s father, said as the process has dragged on since his son was killed on Aug. 16, 2011, it has brought his family to its knees.

“Horror, hell, absolute hell,” he said. “It has affected us financially, my marriage, his two younger siblings to which he was a role model to. He was a pillar within our house and we have been decimated by it.”

Marco, who grew up in Mission was vacationing in the South Okanagan with friends at the time of the incident.

It was near sunset on Aug. 16, 2011 on Osoyoos Lake when the 18-year-old, who was being pulled behind a boat on a tube, was struck by another vessel. He was rushed back to shore where paramedics and bystanders tried in vain to revive him.

Court documents Mounties filed to obtain search warrants include Const. Joseph Bayda writing that Symington was taken to the Osoyoos RCMP detachment around 11 p.m. on Aug. 16, 2011 and boat operator “appeared to be under the influence of alcohol.” Breath samples were taken about an hour later and the application states Symington’s blood-alcohol level was twice the legal limit.

After spending the night in jail and being advised of his rights, Symington told Bayda he was driving the boat at the time of the incident and said that although he saw the other vessel, he did not see the tube behind it. Symington also told the officer he didn’t realize at first that he had hit anything, and later became scared when he learned someone had been injured, Bayda wrote.

Witness statements given to police were not sworn and cannot be considered as reliable court testimony. One person on Symington’s boat told police the sun was going down when she spotted another boat with a green light visible coming towards them. She said both boats were going fast and she saw the tube just before Symington hit it. According to the court documents, the witness told police Symington initially did not want to go back to the scene after the accident and said “don’t call the cops.” The witness said Symington relented and along with two others they swam over to the other boat to offer help. She also said occupants of the tow boat were throwing beer cans into the lake as they headed for shore. The driver of the boat pulling Corbin, Cole Delorme, said he noticed the other boat when it was 10 metres away and he “pinned it” to try to get the tube clear. He said he knew he should have had a spotter but didn’t, and that he shouldn’t be towing people after dark. Delorme said the other boat did not have any lights visible. A breathalyser test on Delorme showed no alcohol in his system, according to Bayda’s written report.

The deceased’s father said it seems like an “open and closed” case to him, but years later the family is still waiting. While he has not been able to bring himself to return to the area, other members of the Corbin family have.

“All I have been trying to do is hold my family together through this. My son was knocked down at the peak of his life by an (alleged) reckless drunk driver and that person has spent one day in jail in the past three years. Meanwhile, we are hanging on by our nails, so to speak,” said Bob.

The death has rocked his two younger sons’ lives, he said. Marco was a student athlete, a provincial track champion, had scholarships for post-secondary engineering courses, and was well-known in the Lower Mianland as part of a band with his younger siblings.

“Their brother was a role model to them and it has affected them hugely. One of them dropped out of school and just other stuff that wasn’t going to happen. It made this whole cascade of events happen as a result.

“We are not just grieving a loss; it has affected the directions of these young boys’ lives. This cascade of events has been catastrophic for the family,” said Bob.

Crown counsel spokesperson Neil Mackenzie said the court proceedings are in the preliminary stages still.

Bob said if there is a trial there is no question that he will be in attendance.

“I want to see this person face-to-face,” he said.

A Transport Canada boating safety officer told the  Western News at the time that Osoyoos Lake had the lowest compliance rate of any Interior lake they visited in 2010.

“I don’t want to hear about this kind of stuff happening again. Drinking and boating has gone hand-in-hand for so long. People don’t treat it the same as a vehicle. They think they are on vacation and they are in a boat so it is OK. It is a rampant issue,” said Bob.

Symington is scheduled back in Penticton court on May 28.


Penticton Western News