Witnesses recount fatal collision

A June 8, 2010 crash took the life of Ethan Baptiste

  • Jun. 17, 2013 11:00 a.m.

A witness to a crash that killed a prominent young leader in the Okanagan Nation testified that she “felt like there was going to be an accident” in the moments leading up to the West Kelowna collision.

On June 8, 2010, Tanya Shaak was the passenger in a car waiting to turn left onto Westlake Road from Highway 97 when she saw the light turn yellow and a black pickup truck start to move from the left turn lane.

“I just felt like there was going to be an accident because I didn’t see the (oncoming) semi slowing down,” she said.

Later, she said: “I thought it (the semi) was far enough away to have slowed down.”

Jade Thomson was also in the left turn lane and remembered thinking “don’t go” when he spotted the pickup start to turn after the light turned yellow.

The semi collided with the pickup, sheering off the pickup’s front end, said Shaak.

After being hit, the black truck slid in the intersection and “smacked” into the driver’s side of Thomson’s Buick.

The semi, meanwhile, went over the bank at the intersection and when Const. Jeremy Ricker arrived, he saw a “large billow of black smoke” coming from the semi in the ditch.

He soon learned a fourth vehicle was involved in the crash. Witnesses who testified at trial did not see another car get hit, but Brent Hartsook testified he later saw a car “get pulled out” from by the semi.

Police said after the crash that the car had been waiting to merge onto Highway 97 when it became pinned under the semi as it went over the bank.

The driver of the car, 33-year-old Ethan Baptiste, was killed.

The alleged driver of the semi, Jeffrey Robert Penz, is now on trial for the Motor Vehicle Act offences of failing to stop for a yellow light and drive without reasonable consideration. The trial is scheduled to run through

Wednesday.

By Cheryl Wierda, Capital News contributor

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