Arlene Westervelt. (Capital News file)

Arlene Westervelt. (Capital News file)

Cause of Lake Country woman’s death on Okanagan Lake ‘undetermined’: Coroner

Arlene Westervelt’s husband was charged with murder, but the Crown stayed the charge in July 2020

A three-year investigation into the cause of death of a Lake Country woman has been deemed undetermined by the BC Coroners Service.

British Columbia Coroner Lori Moen has released her report into the 2016 death of Arlene Westervelt, who died after falling out of a canoe.

In April, 2019, it was reported that after a lengthy police investigation Lambertus (Bert) Westervelt was formally charged with second degree murder for the alleged homicide death of his wife. In July 2020, however, the charges were stayed.

READ MORE: Lake Country man charged in the 2016 killing of his wife

At the time, Arlene’s family expressed their disapproval of the decision.

“He said she disappeared into the lake and was gone. We don’t believe it. We have never believed that,” said Arlene’s sister, Debbie Hennig.

READ MORE: Charge stayed against Lake Country man accused of killing his wife

READ MORE: ‘What changed?’ asks family of dead Lake Country woman after murder charge stayed

On June 26, 2016, a canoe carrying the couple flipped, and Arlene disappeared. Both individuals knew how to swim. A nearby boater rescued Lambertus, and Arlene’s body was recovered a day later from Okanagan Lake by RCMP. She was found in 35 feet of water, approximately 100 feet from the shore.

Although criminality was not originally suspected, individuals close to the family reported concerns regarding Arlene and Lambertus’ relationship. A criminal investigation began, and the coroner directed an autopsy to be conducted.

Moen’s coroner report failed to identify one specific cause of death.

An autopsy showed no external injuries other than a small bruise on Arlene’s upper lip. The coroner identified an issue with her heart’s left chamber, which may have been caused by high blood pressure or undiagnosed heart disease. This could have increased the risk of heart failure.

However, one specific cause of death could not be identified. Drowning could not be confirmed or ruled out.

“After careful consideration of all available evidence, given the competing possibilities with respect to Ms. Westervelt’s death and the lack of compelling corroborative evidence to support one possible cause of death over the others, the cause of Ms. Westervelt’s death remains undetermined.

“I, therefore, classify the manner of death as undetermined and make no recommendations.”

-With files from Michael Rodriguez

Editor’s note: A previous version of this story stated that in July 2020, the charges against Lambertus Westervelt were dropped. This is incorrect. The charges were stayed.

Do you have something to add to this story, or something else we should report on? Email: phil.mclachlan@kelownacapnews.com


 

@newspaperphil
Like us on Facebook and follow us on Twitter.

Death

Get local stories you won't find anywhere else right to your inbox.
Sign up here

Just Posted

Seniors in the Interior Health region can book their COVID-19 vaccinations starting Monday, March 8, 2021 at 7 a.m. (File photo)
Seniors in Interior Heath region can book COVID-19 shots starting Monday

Starting March 8 the vaccination call centre will be open 7 a.m. to 7 p.m. daily

Kelowna General Hospital (File photo)
Second COVID-19 outbreak declared at Kelowna General Hospital

One patient and one staff member on Unit have tested positive for the virus.

Fire ripped through a mobile home on Boucherie Road in West Kelowna on March. 6. (Phil McLachlan - West Kelowna News)
‘My whole life just went up in smoke’; Fire consumes West Kelowna mobile home

RCMP confirmed that there were no injuries due to the fire

A COVID-19 exposure has been confirmed at Pearson Road Elementary in Rutland Saturday, March 6, 2021. (Barry Gerding - Black Press Media)
COVID-19 exposures at Kelowna elementary school

Interior Health confirms virus exposures at Pearson Road Elementary

A render of the proposed expansion at Kelowna Christian School. (City of Kelowna)
City of Kelowna staff support major expansion of local school

Expansion would increase the size of Kelowna Christian School by roughly 3,540 square metres

The James C Richardson Pipe Band marches in a Remembrance Day parade on Nov. 11, 2019 in Chilliwack. Wednesday, March 10 is International Bagpipe Day. (Jenna Hauck/ Chilliwack Progress file)
Unofficial holidays: Here’s what people are celebrating for the week of March 7 to 13

International Bagpipe Day, Wash Your Nose Day and Kidney Day are all coming up this week

Multiple people were injured at a Vernon home following an early-morning break-in Saturday, March 6, 2021. (Black Press file photo)
Multiple people left injured following break-and-enter in Vernon

Police believe the early-morning break-in was targeted and not a threat to the general public

Victoria man Brett Andersen is asking for people’s help to secure him one of eight free tickets to the moon. (Screenshot/@brettandersen Instagram)
Victoria man wants your help securing a free ticket to the moon

Japanese billionaire offering eight people a trip to the moon

The Conservation Officers Service is warning aquarium users after invasive and potentially destructive mussels were found in moss balls from a pet store. (BC Conservation Officers Service/Facebook)
Aquarium users in B.C. warned after invasive mussels found at pet store

Conservation officers were told the mussels were found in a moss ball from a Terrace pet store.

A Coldstream resident who found an owl struggling on her property in March 2021 is now spreading awareness of about the knock-on effects of rodent poisoning. (Kathy Renaud photo)
Okanagan owl ‘fighting for her life’ after ingesting rat poison

Coldstream resident warns against the use of rodenticide due to risk of secondary poisoning in raptors

Hockey hall-of-fame legend Wayne Gretzky, right, watches the casket of his father, Walter Gretzky, as it is carried from the church during a funeral service in Brantford, Ont., Saturday, March 6, 2021. HE CANADIAN PRESS/Nathan Denette
Walter Gretzky remembered as a man with a ‘heart of gold’ at funeral

The famous hockey father died Thursday at age 82 after battling Parkinson’s disease

Cannabis bought in British Columbia (Ashley Wadhwani/Black Press Media)
Is it time to start thinking about greener ways to package cannabis?

Packaging suppliers are still figuring eco-friendly and affordable packaging options that fit the mandates of Cannabis Regulations

Donald Alan Sweet was once an all star CFL kicker who played for the Montreal Alouettes and Montreal Concordes over a 13-year career. Photo courtesy of Mission RCMP.
Ex-B.C. teacher who was CFL kicker charged with assault, sexual crimes against former students

Donald Sweet taught in Mission School District for 10 years, investigators seek further witnesses

Most Read