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Airport incident


Passengers aboard a WestJet flight that landed in Kelowna over the noon hour were relatively calm despite what is believed to have been a bomb threat.

The flight landed at Kelowna International Airport shortly before 1 p.m. Saturday with police, fire crews and BC Ambulance attendants standing by. The plane taxied to an area at the end of the runway, away from the terminal.

Castanet has learned two WestJet flights were checked by bomb sniffing dogs.

Sabrina Thievin, a passenger on the plane travelling from St. Albert, AB, spoke with Castanet News Director Trevor Rockliffe following what turned out to be a three hour ordeal.

"We landed about 12:35 or 12:40 and we sat on the plane for a couple of hours. Then we got taken onto buses...took all the luggage off...they brought the dogs on and they were sniffing the luggage.

Before they did that they moved the buses because we were pretty close to the luggage.

They brought us water, some cookies.

Everyone was really good. People weren't freaking out, it was great.

We just let the police and fireman do their jobs.

It was a long wait and not knowing was hard. Then they got a third bus in and brought us here.

It's a long day."

Thievin was asked the mood of the passengers while everyone waited, not knowing exactly what was going on.

Surprisingly we were commenting there was nobody freaking out..there was no one getting really pissed off.

The longer we were on the bus the harder it got. There were three small children and one of the girls was crying. It got hard for them.

A lady with a baby and some older people. People were getting a little impatient but the WestJet staff was great.

The police came on board and told us what was going on and we really got the feeling they were trying to keep us up to date with what was going on."

Thievin says many on board believed there was a bomb threat.

"That's what we heard. Some people said it was a bomb scare, some people said no but no one actually said for sure what it was.

Evidently the reason it took so long for us to get off the plane was because they had to find drivers for the buses and get the buses out. Then it took longer because the dogs were sniffing the on-going passengers luggage before they did ours since the threat was against that flight and not ours."

Thievin's travelling companion, Joyce Cameron, also from St. Albert, says people were relatively calm throughout.

"It was a long duration but overall everybody kept their sense of humour. Nobody was trying to scare anybody and we all just kept calm and thankful that hopefully it's over."

Cameron added events from earlier this week in Montreal and Ottawa went through her mind while they waited for the ordeal to conclude.

Planes are still not landing at YLW.

UPDATE 3:20 P.M.

Passengers from the WestJet flight are now in the terminal at Kelowna International Airport after a dog checked their luggage.

Fire and ambulance personnel have left the scene.

One female passenger was taken away by ambulance.

UPDATE 2:45 P.M.

A WestJet flight has landed safely at Kelowna International Airport after what Castanet has been told was a threat to the plane.

The plane parked at the far end of the runway away from the terminal where passengers were waiting to be loaded into waiting buses for transport to the terminal.

Luggage is being removed from the plane and collected onto the tarmac.

Devon, a passenger on the WestJet flight told Castanet News a bomb sniffing dog is going through everything.

She says it will be at least a half hour before they are able to move.

Several arrivals have been delayed.

Planes are now taking off, however, nothing has been landing.

More details as they become available.

Emergency crews are on standby at YLW, they are apparently waiting for a WestJet flight to land.

The press release from the airport states:

Kelowna Airport's Aircraft Rescue Firefighters, Kelowna Fire Department, BC Ambulance and RCMP are currently on scene for an unsubstantiated and unconfirmed emergency. 

More details to follow, we have a reporter at the airport.

Free parking for small shop

On-street parking has been waived by the City of Kelowna Saturday.

The move is in support of the Downtown Kelowna Association’s Small Shop Saturday promotion.

Vehicles can park without paying, but posted time limits remain in effect so that convenient parking spaces are turned over for new customers.

All other parking restrictions (designated accessible permit stalls, yellow curbs, loading zones) remain in effect.

This is the third Small Shop event downtown this year.

For more information about Small Shop Events, and a list of participating businesses, visit the Downtown Kelowna Association website,

Winter travel event at YLW

Kelowna International Airport is hosting its annual winter travel event today.

To kick off the winter flight schedule, the public is invited to this sun, beaches and more event to learn about amazing travel destinations and activities, and enter to win prizes. 

The event runs from 11 a.m. to 3 p.m. Saturday at Kelowna International Airport's main terminal. 

There is free parking in the long-term lot, bring your ticket inside for validation.

This is an opportunity to meet with air carriers, hotels, resorts and travel agents to get travel tips and information on sunny destinations, including Mexico, Hawaii and the Caribbean and even where to experience the Northern Lights & dog sledding adventures this winter.  

Enter to Win

  • All-inclusive trip for two to Ixtapa Mexico including seven nights at Azul Ixtapa Resort courtesy of Sunwing Vacations  
  • Airfare for two from Kelowna to Puerto Vallarta courtesy of Nolitours/Transat Holidays
  • Fly on Air Canada from Kelowna to Hawaii - air travel for two
  • Win airfare for two to anywhere WestJet Airlines flies within Canada or United States  
  • A midnight sun surprise with Air North, Yukon's Airline        

And if you are participating with 103.9 The Juice with the #heartYLWSFO contest you may have a chance to win tickets for two on United to San Francisco!

Tickets for the draw are available at the event for a minimum five dollar donation

  • $5 for 1 
  • $10 for 3  
  • $20 for 6  

The draw for these AMAZING prizes will be made at the event at 3 p.m. - you don't need to be at the airport at the time of the draw (except for the #heartYLWSFO qualifiers). 

Proceeds from the draw will be donated to Bumbershoot Children's Theatre.

Vacation winners will be called and posted on the YLW Facebook page.


Struck cyclist's friends rally

The Kelowna cyclist and yogi who nearly lost her life after being pinned under a water truck is doing better, beating the odds and slowly recovering in Vancouver.

Andy Hayden, 31, was riding her bike in the Pandosy area when she had a collision with a water truck. Hayden was dragged underneath the back wheels and she remained pinned for nearly 30 minutes. Witnesses at the scene thought Hayden wouldn't make it given the blood loss and length of time she was pinned.

Kelowna Firefighters had to use jacks to lift the water truck off of Hayden before she could be rushed to hospital.

Despite all odds she survived and was even stable enough to be transported to Vancouver General Hospital. She is still in VGH, where she is starting a long recovery process.

Kelowna RCMP say the incident is still under investigation and at this point no charges have been laid. 

Now, her friends and family are rallying behind the woman they all love and admire.

Kelowna realtor and fellow yogi, Krista Suchar is one of those planning the fundraisers.

“Her injuries are critical and serious, so she is in great hands in Vancouver,” says Suchar.

Hayden has had several surgeries and there are more to come, including skin-grafting this week.

“I have spoken to a couple of people who were there and it was just so horrific,” says a still shaken Suchar who notes Hayden was dragged under the truck for 10-feet. “I don't think anyone who saw the accident expected her to survive.”

Suchar is confident her friend will pull through.

“She is in great hands and I know she has an amazing attitude and spirit... she is absolutely going to recover.”

Hayden is a yoga instructor at Bikram Yoga on Lawrence Avenue and has a large following of students rallying behind her.

“You know her livelihood is fitness and being active and myself and the whole yoga community have been thrown for a loop, and we are really worried about our friend,” says Suchra.

Hayden lost several litres of blood during the accident and, starting Monday, the yoga community is banding together for a blood drive to help fill the reserves at the blood bank.

“We just want to shed some light and some awareness on the importance of giving blood regularly,” says Suchar. “As well as some focus on the importance of being a conscientious driver out in our community with respect for cyclists. Focused on what you're doing, focused on driving and being careful out there.”

If you would like to donate blood call Canadian Blood Services at 1-888-2-DONATE and make an appointment at the Kelowna clinic on Dilworth.

Hayden's friends are also concerned for the financial burden the accident has caused.

Suchar says they are planning a big fundraiser in the near future and they are selling t-shirts to support their yogi.

Hayden's boyfriend, Stephen Scott, designed the ink-work on the shirts (to the left). People can buy them with the logo on them or bring an item of clothing in to be silk-screened (for a donation). The t-shirt reads “Iron Andy Pants – Yoga Bike Ninja – Pandosy Aint Got Nothin On Me.”

If you'd like a t-shirt or want more information check out their Facebook page. 

“If Andy is reading this we love you and we are rooting you on,” adds Suchar.

Pedestrian hit on Harvey

A pedestrian was taken to hospital after he was struck by a vehicle at Abbott Street and Harvey Avenue Friday night.

RCMP say the man appeared to try and cross Harvey, while traffic was moving, from the City Park side to the south side of the highway. The traffic had the right of way.

A black pick-up narrowly missed the man, but he was hit by a small vehicle coming beside the pick-up. The incident happened around 11:20.

An RCMP officer at the scene said the man suffered a serious head injury.

The incident is under investigation.



Dinner to support "diversabilities"

Supporting adults with 'diversabilities' is as simple as going out for dinner this Wednesday.

Pathways Abilities Society and Kelowna Community Development Society present the second Annual Dine for Diversabilities fundraising event in celebration of Community Living Month.

"Participating in this great event can’t be easier! Simply go out for a meal at a participating restaurant on Wednesday, October 29, 2014, and the restaurant will make a donation to support adults with diversabilities in our community!" Karen Waldal, home share coordinator at the KCDS said in a release.

The participating restaurants are:

  • Café Soleil – 553 Bernard Avenue – breakfast and lunch
  • The Grateful Fed – 509 Bernard Avenue – lunch
  • Casa Sasso Italian Foodbar – 426 Bernard Avenue – dinner
  • Memphis Blues BBQ House – 289 Bernard Avenue – lunch and dinner

Pathways Abilities Society and Kelowna Community Development Society have a combined history of providing services to individuals with diversabilities and their families in our community for more than 90 years.   

"By offering a combination of Community Inclusion, Social Recreation and Activity services; Integrated Career Opportunities and Social Ventures; and Residential and Home Sharing services we work collectively to empower individuals with diversabilities to live fully inclusive lives where their quality of life is improved," Waldal said. 

“We are so pleased to partner with Kelowna Community Development Society on this great event," Pathways Executive Director Charisse Daley says. "It allows us to reach more people about the importance of fostering a truly inclusive community, and provides much needed financial resources to allow us to continue our work.  

"We’re grateful to the restaurants who have signed up to participate in this event, as it demonstrates their commitment to being philanthropic corporate citizens who really care about our community. We hope people will go out and enjoy a meal at on October 29 and support DIVERSABILITIES in our community!”


Designated driver only 14

A son making sure his intoxicated dad got home safely has received his first traffic ticket following a vehicle stop Wednesday evening.

Turns out the son was just 14-years-old.

Members of the Kelowna Integrated Road Safety Unit, stopped the Chevy Impala on Bartley Road near Capri Road shortly before 11 p.m. Wednesday evening.

The car, which had been observed leaving a liquor store nearby, was found to be a rental vehicle and had two occupants.

The 14-year-old West Kelowna boy was apparently acting as chauffeur and designated driver for his 47-year-old father, who happened to be under the influence of alcohol.

The boy was unlicenced to drive because one cannot obtain a British Columbia Learner's Licence until they are at least 16 years of age.

The rental car agreement showed the father listed as the only approved operator and the car was subsequently removed from the roadway for retrieval by the rental company.

The boy received a Violation Ticket for No Driver's Licence while his father was issued a Violation Ticket for Allowing an Unlicenced Minor To Drive.

Two sentenced in shoot out

Two of the three accused Westside Shooters were sentenced in Kelowna on Friday. They were involved in a chase and exchange of gun fire with police in July of 2012.

The chase stretched from West Kelowna to Vernon along Westside Road and involved numerous carjackings. It eventually culminated with the arrest of three suspects near the Swan Lake exchange; Ashley Collins, Shawn Wysynski and Michael Ellis.

Ellis is still on trial after pleading not guilty to 22 charges. 

Shawn Wysynski pleaded guilty to one charge of armed robbery and one charge of attempted armed robbery early in the trial proceedings.

Justice Peter Rogers sentenced him to nine years in a federal institution, minus 39 months credit for his 26 months served in a remand centre. He also received a lifetime firearms ban and is required to give a DNA sample. 

Wysynski will be eligible for parole after serving one year. 

"His criminal record can lead one to no conclusion other than, Mr Wysynski simply has no attachment to normal society," Justice Rogers said. "I'm not optimistic that whatever programs may be available to him in custody will have a rehabilitative effect, but, as they say 'never say never,' and who knows, Mr Wysynski might eventually surprise us all." 

Collins pleaded guilty to knowingly being in a vehicle where there were illegal firearms. She was given a suspended sentence of 18 months and 18 months of probation.

She is also prohibited from possessing firearms for the next five years.

Collins said she was "pretty relieved," regarding the sentence.

During the chase, Collins suffered a gunshot wound to her abdomen during the melee. She was lying in the back of a black truck being driven by Wysynski and Ellis when she was wounded. The police bullet resulted in the loss of a kidney and a miscarriage for Collins. 

Despite these injuries, defence counsel Grant Gray said it was a "miracle" that no others were injured in the proceedings. 

Collins' significantly lighter sentence was based on her being 18-years-old at the time of the crime and the likelihood that her judgment was impaired by drug and alcohol use.

Gray submitted that Collins had given up the use of drugs and alcohol since the incident and had detoxified during her recovery in hospital. 

Collins apparently told her probation officer that the day she was shot was her worst day and also her best day - she now has a job, quit drugs and her employers have given good reviews of her behaviour.

Justice Rogers said he thought there was a good chance of her rehabilitation. 




Lights out, crocodile

1:45 p.m. update:

FortisBC contacted Castanet to say that they have been working with Croc Talk for more than five years in attempts to reduce their outstanding balance and find a timeframe for repayment that worked for both parties. 

This is contrary to Illman's claim that his power was disconnected without notice.

"We've been talking with the customer almost daily leading up to the disconnection of their power," Fortis spokesperson David Wylie said. "It hit a point where we did have to make that really hard decision. We have an obligation to our other customers to collect on overdue accounts."

Wylie said Fortis tried to make a decision that would be best for the survival of the animals. Getting the power back on at Croc Talk would require some cash, and a strong commitment on how and when Croc Talk would pay their outstanding balance.

Some exotic fish and reptiles are at risk of dying and a local business is being threatened after Fortis cut the power off at Croc Talk in Kelowna Thursday.

Croc Talk has been in Kelowna for more than 20 years but this year has been particularly difficult for owner Doug Illman.

Permitting issues with the city stopped them from doing business at the beginning of the summer, and now that the tourists have left, missing that early business has made it difficult to make ends meet.

"The reality is, the power is off and I can't get my generator started," Illman said. "Animals will perish very soon."

Illman said he didn't receive any notices from Fortis warning that power would be cut off. What he did receive was a bill for $6,400 which he says he cannot afford to pay. 

"All of our ponds are thermostatically controlled, we regulate water and air temperature so this is a really bad time for Fortis to shut me down over $6,400," he said. "The crocodillians are probably OK in here, but within a couple of hours all my fish are going to die. Fish need air, I'm really feeling guilty."

Illman said he doesn't have any ill-will towards Fortis, but the payments he has been making were not enough to keep the lights on. 

"We are a non-profit organization, but it's hard to raise money for reptiles when people care more about raising money for cuddly animals."

Croc Talk was incorporated as a non-profit last March.

Croc Talk's location at 4493A Stewart Road East in Kelowna has always made business difficult; they're way off the highway and in an agricultural zone, not an industrial one. But raising the money to get into a permanent location has been the struggle. 

"We've been on this property for nine years, and people have been supportive of that," Illman said. "But this has always been a temporary location, which is a problem. With the real estate situation as it is in this community, it's overwhelming."

Illman said other than the kangaroo farm in Winfield, Croc Talk is the only remaining business that's really geared towards educating and entertaining children in Kelowna.

In a worst case scenario, Illman said he has had a very generous offer from a zoo in Alberta, although he would not mention which. However, Illman doesn't want to leave.

"There's no reason Croc Talk can't succeed in Kelowna without a little help. We have things here you can't see anywhere else in North America," he said. "Kelowna is my home, I love Kelowna, love the environment, why should I have to leave? 




Banned driver pinched in vehicle

A 46-year-old Kelowna man is facing a number of possible charges after police located a stolen vehicle outside a problem residence Wednesday night.
Shortly before midnight Wednesday a member of the Kelowna RCMP was conducting patrols near a residence in the 700 block of Bernard Avenue when he located a stolen vehicle behind the building.

The driver was arrested without incident for possession of stolen property.

Police searched the man for weapons and found a spring-loaded knife, often referred to as a switchblade.

The suspect was identified and police records indicated that he was prohibited from driving a motor vehicle.
The 46-year-old Kelowna man faces potential charges of Possession of Stolen Property, Possession of a Prohibited Weapon, and Driving While Prohibited.


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