Kelowna accident victim’s body recovered by divers

An RCMP dive team found a car in 30 feet of water that careened into Okanagan Lake from Westside Road on Tuesday afternoon.

RCMP divers surface with the body of an elderly man who was the driver of a red Cadillac that plummeted down an embankment after veering off Westside Road. The vehicle landed in Okanagan Lake and submerged in about 30 feet of water.

RCMP divers surface with the body of an elderly man who was the driver of a red Cadillac that plummeted down an embankment after veering off Westside Road. The vehicle landed in Okanagan Lake and submerged in about 30 feet of water.

The driver of the Cadillac that careened into the lake after allegedly sideswiping another car on Westside Road was unclipped from a seat belt and removed from his watery resting place Thursday.

“The recovery went well,” said Const. Dave Smith, with the RCMP South East District underwater recovery team,

Dive teams, following a 75 metre path of ripped-up earth down from the road and into the lake, found the car  under 30 feet of water.

When they secured the 2006 Cadillac, ensuring it wouldn’t slip deeper down a “precarious slope,” they removed a man’s body through a sunroof, which had been torn open during its trajectory into the lake.

“I don’t think he knew much from the initial impact on,” said Smith, of the sole passenger, who is believed to be a 65-year-old man from north of Fintry.

He likely died as a result of head injuries, he surmised. Upon removing the body, dive teams turned their attention back to removing the car, so it can be examined by investigators in addition to reducing the environmental risk it posed.

“Lift bags” were dropped into the vehicle, and from above filled with air. That technique is used to bring the car to the surface so it can be towed to shore.

Unfortunately, it’s not the first time crews have had to recover a vehicle from that spot, said Smith, noting that in November  2006  there was a similar operation.The sharp curve where the car left the road, has been a point of contention among area residents for years and the remnants of other crashes were evident during Thursday’s recovery.

“There’s a fair bit of debris from other vehicles,” said Smith. “There’s a fair bit of junk under the water.”

The collision occurred on Tuesday at about 6:30 p.m. on a windy stretch of Westside Road, about seven kilometres north of Highway 97.

The driver of the red Cadillac sedan, is believed to have tried to pass  northbound grey Toyota station wagon on a sharp curve.

It sideswiped the vehicle, forcing it into the cement barrier on the side of the road. That’s when the Cadillac driver lost control. The vehicle was submerged when emergency personnel arrived, and no one emerged from the vehicle. The occupants of the other vehicle was shaken up but not injured.

 

Kelowna Capital News