A fun afternoon on Okanagan Lake near Vernon nearly turned tragic Sunday.
A nine-year-old boy operating a Yamaha WaveRunner personal water craft (PWC) with an 18-year-old male passenger collided with a ski boat near the 2600 block of Lakeshore Road, not far from a crowded Kin Beach, shortly after 1 p.m.
“Our officers were able to determine that two young men were on the PWC when it drove up and over the back of a Malibu Response ski boat,” said Vernon RCMP spokesperson Gord Molendyk on Monday.
“The older of the two boys had been operating the PWC but traded places with the nine-year-old prior to the crash. It was the nine-year-old who was driving when the craft came up over the back of the passenger side of the ski boat, and landed on the driver.”
“It was about 1:15 when we heard a yell and then a bang,” said a woman who lives on Lakeshore Road, but asked not to be identified. “We looked out on the lake and saw the Sea-Doo resting on top of a boat. The boat had been going along at like putting speed from the east side of the lake to the west.”
The nine-year-old, from Calgary, was taken on a stretcher and transported to Vernon Jubilee Hospital.
The 18-year-old, a Kitchener, Ont. resident who did not have a boater’s licence or operator’s card, which is mandatory in B.C., was unhurt.
The owner of the PWC is also from Calgary. The owner has spoken to police.
The driver of the boat, a 27-year-old man from Carrs Landing, in Lake Country, ended up with facial abrasions, a possible concussion and other injuries after the water craft ended up on top of him.
His passengers, a 37-year-old Carrs Landing man who had his five-year-old son with him in the boat, were not injured.
“Reports are his friend had to push the PWC off the driver to get control of the boat as it was circling out of control immediately after the crash,” said Molendyk.
Eyewitnesses told The Morning Star the driver of the boat was unconscious for several minutes.
Both men in the boat are said to be volunteer firefighters.
All of the injuries were non-life-threatening.
Police were told the water craft was being operated in a wild, reckless manner just before the crash.
“Witnesses said the boys on the PWC were driving recklessly prior to the accident, weaving in and out of boats on the lake and jumping boat wakes, including the one they landed on,” said Molendyk.
The investigation was continuing on Monday, and charges had yet to be laid in the matter.
The woman said she and her husband have lived full-time at their Lakeshore Road for nearly four years, and that PWC traffic is getting worse near their home.
“I’ve written a letter to residents of the home where these Sea-Doos came from, just asking people to be careful,” said the woman. I’m concerned because our dogs swim in the lake, the neighbour has a young kid who goes snorkeling and the crafts come in and out so fast, often driven by kids.
“I was hoping they’d post the rules, as most visitors are from Alberta. It’s been happening a lot. This summer and last summer have been brutal.”
A Yamaha Waverunner was also involved in a fatal accident on Okanagan Lake near Kelowna’s El Dorado resort Friday.
A 10-year-old girl from St. Albert, Alta. was the passenger on a WaveRunner, operated by her 18-year-old brother, who is from Kelowna. The girl was killed when the PWC was hit by a boat being operated by a couple, whose hometowns were not released.
Kelowna police report the couple in the boat saw what they believed was an unoccupied PWC, and turned to check out the craft.
When the boat turned, it struck another PWC which had two occupants aboard.