Photo taken from a surveillance video being used in a civil suit filed against the Kelowna RCMP.

Kelowna’s year in review – September 2020

A look back at the biggest stories in September

  • Jan. 1, 2021 11:00 a.m.

Smoke from United States wildfires prompts air quality statement for Okanagan

Despite a quiet year in B.C. for wildfires, the province didn’t escape heavy smoke, after blazes in the United States impacted air quality levels.

Winds overnight on Sept.7 blew smoke north from fires, particularly in Washington.

Smoke from Washington, Oregon and California became trapped below the inversion.

A special air quality statement from the ministry of environment was issued for the Central, North and South Okanagan regions.

The lingering smoke brought about more concern for those with underlying medical conditions or serious infections such as COVID-19.

At the time, the wildfires meant Vancouver’s air quality ranked as among the worst of the world’s major cities, along with that in Portland, Ore., and San Francisco.

•••

Surrey man handed life sentence for West Kelowna murder of common-law partner

Rama Gauravarapu was killed in her West Kelowna hotel room on July, 22, 2018. (Contributed)

A Surrey man was sentenced to life in prison with no chance of parole for 12 years in the murder of his common-law partner.

Tejwant Danjou was reduced to tears in a Kelowna Court on Sept. 14 as BC Supreme Court Justice Allison Beames delivered her decision on sentencing.

The former Surrey real estate agent was convicted of second-degree murder in August for bludgeoning Rama Gauravarapu to death with a wine bottle in a West Kelowna hotel room on July 22, 2018, while the two were on vacation in the area.

“This was a brutal, tragic and senseless killing,” Beames said.

“By all accounts, Rama Gauravarapu was a much-loved and respected mother, family member, friend and colleague.”

None of Gauravarapu’s family, who was present through most of the trial, was in attendance for the sentencing.

Danjou will spend the first two years of his sentence at the maximum-security Kent Institution in Agassiz, according to his defence lawyer. He will become eligible for parole in 2030.

•••

Kelowna Mountie at centre of UBCO wellness check investigation faces third lawsuit

Photo taken from a surveillance video being used in a civil suit filed against the Kelowna RCMP.

It was Sept. 10, when a third person filed a lawsuit against Kelowna Mountie Lacey Browning, accusing the constable of assaulting and threatening him in front of his five-year-old son.

Browning is currently the subject of a high-profile criminal investigation into a wellness check at UBC Okanagan in January, in which she was seen dragging nursing student Mona Wang down a hallway at her residence and stepping on her head.

Wang is currently suing Browning, the Attorney General of Canada, and the Minister of Public Safety and Solicitor concerning the incident.

A second woman filed a suit against Browning shortly after Wang’s story made national news.

Fiona Read alleges Browning assaulted her after she sought help from the officer while walking home from a party in the early morning hours of New Year’s Day 2016.

However, the Attorney General of Canada recently supported Browning by seeking the dismissal of Read’s lawsuit by offering a staunch defence of the constable.

Cole Charles Vasko, came forward as the third person to make allegations against Browning.

Vasko claims he and his son were walking home around midnight after visiting a friend’s house on March 9, 2019. During their walk, Vasko had a brief altercation with a passing motorist who almost hit him and his son.

That motorist, unbeknownst to Vasko, called the police making allegations against him, causing a response.

Browning was one of the officers who attended the scene.

Without warning, the suit alleges, she grabbed Vasko from behind and threw him to the ground.

Alongside Browning, the lawsuit also names the Attorney General of Canada and B.C. Minister of Public Safety.

None of the defendants have filed a response and the claims have not yet been tested in court.

•••

RCMP seeking witnesses to fatal Peachland motorcycle crash on Highway 97

A fatal crash involving a motorcycle closed Highway 97 in Peachland for hours on Sept. 27.

The collision happened just after noon when a Chevrolet pickup entered Highway 97 from Hardy Street and was struck by a southbound Harley Davidson motorcycle.

Michael Odenbach, the rider of the Harley Davidson motorcycle involved in the crash, died at the scene.

Odenbach was in his 40s and the owner of Western Star Auctions.

Facebook filled with condolences for Odenbach’s family, as many remembered him as a great man who would be deeply missed.

Like us on Facebook and follow us on Twitter.

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

 

Michael Odenbach died on Sept. 27 in a motorcycle crash. Facebook.

Just Posted

Toronto Public Health nurse Lalaine Agarin makes preparations at Toronto’s mass vaccination clinic, Jan. 17, 2021. THE CANADIAN PRESS/Frank Gunn
3 deaths, 234 new cases of COVID-19 in Interior Health over the weekend

One death connected to outbreak at Kamloops’ Royal Inland Hospital, where 20 patients and 28 staff have tested positive

People in Kelowna’s City Park on May 18, 2020. (Michael Rodriguez - Capital News)
Downtown Kelowna’s City Park scheduled for facelift

Designs for the future of City Park unveiled; construction to begin fall 2021

The scene of a serious crash on Highway 33 in Kelowna that killed one and severely injured two others on June 20, 2018. (File)
Driver found guilty of causing death, injury in 2018 Kelowna crash

Travis Ryan Hennessy will face sentencing at a later date

(Michael Rodriguez - Capital News staff)
UPDATE: Downtown stairwell fire suspicious, Kelowna RCMP say

The fire was knocked down at Gotham Nightclub

Kelowna Mayor Colin Basran addresses media from the front steps of council chambers on March 23. (Michael Rodriguez - Capital News)
Kelowna, West Kelowna still looking to opt-out of speculation tax

Mayors say spec tax has missed the mark, revenue largely coming out of Canadians’ pockets

Crews with Discovery Channel film as an Aggressive Towing driver moves a Grumman S2F Tracker aircraft around a 90-degree turn from its compound and onto the road on Saturday, Jan. 23, 2021. It was the “most difficult” part of the move for the airplane, one organizer said. (Jenna Hauck/ Chilliwack Progress)
VIDEO: Vintage military plane gets towed from Chilliwack to Greater Victoria

Grumman CP-121 Tracker’s eventual home the British Columbia Aviation Museum on Vancouver Island

Heather Barker. (File)
Manslaughter charge laid in Vernon woman’s 2018 death

Shaun Ross Wiebe, 43, faces manslaughter and assault charges related to the death of Heather Barker

Zaudanawng “Jay-Dan” Maran in his Creston home. Hanging on the wall behind him is a logo of Kachin’s Manaw festival. Photo: Aaron Hemens
From Myanmar to Creston: The story of a refugee

In October 2007, Zaudanawng “Jay-Dan” Maran and his friends encountered a woman being sexually assaulted by two Myanmar soldiers.

Kamloops This Week.
48 COVID-19 cases and one death associated with outbreak at Kamloops hospital

One of the 20 patients infected has died, meanwhile 28 staff with COVID-19 are isolating at home

Rolling seven-day average of cases by B.C. health authority to Jan. 21. Fraser Health in purple, Vancouver Coastal red, Interior Health orange, Northern Health green and Vancouver Island blue. (B.C. Centre for Disease Control)
2nd COVID vaccine doses on hold as B.C. delivery delayed again

New COVID-19 cases slowing in Fraser Health region

Head Brewer Kody Rosentreter, owner Wes Greve and taproom manager Lisa Deleo celebrated North Basin Brewing’s grand opening Jan. 22 and 23, 2020. (Contributed)
Osoyoos’ first microbrewery celebrates grand opening

The brewery hopes to show that the Okanagan is more than just wine country

Provincial health officer Dr. Bonnie Henry talk about the next steps in B.C.’s COVID-19 Immunization Plan during a press conference at Legislature in Victoria, B.C., on Friday, January 22, 2021. Two more cases of the COVID-19 strain first identified in South Africa have been diagnosed in British Columbia, bringing the total to three as of Jan. 16.THE CANADIAN PRESS/Chad Hipolito
B.C. now has three cases of South African COVID-19 variant, six of U.K. strain

Both variants are thought to spread faster than earlier strains

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

Rodney and Ekaterina Baker in an undated photo from social media. The couple has been ticketed and charged under the Yukon’s <em>Civil Emergency Measures Act</em> for breaking isolation requirements in order to sneak into a vaccine clinic and receive Moderna vaccine doses in Beaver Creek. (Facebook/Submitted)
Great Canadian Gaming CEO resigns after being accused of sneaking into Yukon for vaccine

Rod Baker and Ekaterina Baker were charged with two CEMA violations each

Most Read