A provincial coroner says severe weather and ill-fitting lifejackets played a role in the deaths of two Vernon men on Kalamalka Lake in May.
Coroner Margaret Janzen listed the official cause of death of Frederick Basil Marshall, 50, and Albert James Castanelli, 47, on May 21, 2013 as asphyxia due to drowning.
The pair had been camping with a dog at an area on Kalamalka Lake accessible only by boat, and had been there since May 17. The plan was to return to the Coldstream area on May 21.
At approximately 1:30 p.m. on May 21, Marshall texted the owner of the boat, saying they were ready to return when a sudden storm came up. Marshall texted that “they would have to wait before they set out because of heavy rain and lightning.”
About 45 minutes later, Marshall texted the friend, saying they were on their way.
There had been a bit of a lull in the storm but the inclement weather soon picked up again.
“The boat owner texted that they may have missed their window,” reported Jansen. “Eventually, Mr. Marshall quit responding to the boat owner’s texts.”
Shortly before 8 a.m. on May 22, Vernon RCMP responded to a call from a citizen who observed a dead dog and some camping gear in the Cosens Bay area of Kal Lake.
A search was launched. Castanelli’s body was found washed on shore. Marshall’s body was found floating in the lake close to the overturned 12-foot aluminum boat.
“Both Mr. Castanelli and Mr. Marshall were wearing lifejackets, but they were too large and ill-fitted to be effective,” said Janzen.
Castanelli was wearing blue jeans, a shirt and jacket, hiking boots and a fanny pack. Marshall, who had a valid boat operator’s licence, was wearing jeans, runners and two jackets.
Toxicology reports showed both men had a blood-alcohol concentration consistent with a moderate level of intoxication, which Janzen also listed as a contributory factor to the men’s deaths.