West Kelowna  

Massive traffic back-up

UPDATE: 1:55 p.m.

This morning's collision on the Bennett Bridge was a two-car rear-ender.

The crash happened in the eastbound lanes coming into Kelowna, blocking the left lane about 11:30 a.m.

The incident caused a traffic back-up that stretched all the way to between Ross Road and Bartley Road on the Westside.

The scene was cleared about noon, but traffic was still backed up to Hudson Road until almost 1 p.m.

Fire, police, ambulance and Pro-Trans (bridge maintenance) staff all responded to the collision.

UPDATE 12:55 p.m.

A traffic incident on the William R. Bennett Bridge has been cleared up.

The incident, which happened late this morning, backed up traffic heading into Kelowna from the Westside.

Traffic is beginning to move again, although volume could make the drive in slower than usual.


Traffic is backed into West Kelowna due to an accident on the bridge this morning.

The accident in the far left lane is forcing all lanes of traffic to merge into the right lane to cross the bridge.

Emergency personnel are on scene.

Motorists heading into Kelowna can expect significant delays.

Castanet will have more information as soon as it becomes available.

Smoke is open burning

UPDATED: 8:46 p.m.

Firefighters working at West Kelowna Fire Rescue Wednesday night believe the smoke some have seen on the Okanagan Connector is coming from someone's open burning.

A person driving the Connector alerted Castanet to "heavy smoke" on the highway, but fire officials say they have not heard of anything of concern in the area.

ORIGINAL: 9:47 a.m.

Don't be too concerned about smoke coming from the hills around the Okanagan Valley.

Today is an opening burning day.

According to fire department officials in West Kelowna, a number of permits have been issued to people who are taking advantage of the opportunity to burn trimmings and other items on their property.

Of particular concern to residents is a fire burning in the hills just past Walmart.

Big gap in fentanyl case

A West Kelowna couple will be spending months apart as they await their next court date for charges related to production and possession of narcotics, including fentanyl.

Leslie John McCulloch, 38, and Rebekka Rae White, 27, were charged after police raided a West Kelowna warehouse on Auburn Road on March 2.

Dozens of police, along with paramedics and firefighters, raided the warehouse.

At that time, officer Dan Minkley said they had executed a warrant on the property in conjunction with a second warrant at a rural property in West Kelowna.

“This is the conclusion of a drug production investigation,” officer Dan Minkley said from the scene. “We have executed a search warrant at this location where we found drug production equipment – a clandestine lab.”

Minkley said the building was being used to make counterfeit prescription pills that contained fentanyl, an extremely strong opiate that has played a role in hundreds of deaths in B.C. in 2016 alone.

Police believe they were importing fentanyl from China to produce fake Percocet and OxyContin.

McCulloch was denied bail earlier this month and will remain in custody until the preliminary inquiry next year, scheduled for May 23-25, 2017.

White is currently out on bail until the preliminary inquiry.

As it stands, both McCulloch and White have elected to be tried by judge and jury.

Food for thought

To keep the conversation around suicide awareness and mental health going, Castanet has joined forces with The LifeLine Canada Foundation for the month of October.

Local restaurants will bring the message of positive mental health to the dinner table during Food For Thought.

Today, we are featuring 19 Okanagan Grill + Bar in Kelowna. They are featuring a quinoa and arugula salad.

The salad contains hand cut greens, quinoa, baby arugula, candy cane beets, a bourbon dijon vinaigrette, sun-dried cranberries, slivered almonds and local goat cheese.

Check back now through Oct. 30 to find out which restaurants are featuring delicious meals with unique mental-health benefits.

Injuries in 3-vehicle crash

Two people were taken to hospital after a crash on Highway 97 at Butt Road on the Westside.

The crash early Tuesday afternoon involved three vehicles.

It appeared the two patients suffered whiplash related injuries.

Cyclist suffers head injury

Paramedics helped an injured cyclist in West Kelowna Tuesday morning.

It's unclear whether he fell or was struck at Ross Road and Pike Road. However, a witness said there was significant damage to his helmet.

There's no word on the extent of his injuries.

2nd chance for memorial?

Charrie Fichter may get her wish after all.

Fichter, the mother of slain Peachland teen Ashlee Hyatt, had her petition to continue to place flowers at her daughter's lakefront memorial bench denied last week by municipal council.

The motion on the floor was to allow Fichter to continue the practice.

The vote ended deadlocked 3-3. According to rules, a tie vote means a motion is defeated.

Fichter was upset Mayor Cindy Fortin, one of her most staunch supporters, was unable to attend the meeting because of a family medical emergency.

Now, a councillor is coming to her aid.

In an email sent to Castanet, Coun. Keith Thom said he will introduce a motion to reconsider the decision when council meets again Nov. 8.

"I am a strong believer in the democratic process. Our mayor was not able to attend last week’s council meeting due to a family emergency and I feel that in the spirit of fairness that her voice should have been heard," said Thom.

"I would appeal to the public to refrain from placing flowers on the bench until this motion is brought forward at the Nov. 8 meeting."

Despite the original vote, Fichter told Castanet she would continue to place flowers on the bench.

Fortin said she was disappointed she missed the meeting.

As of last week, she had not decided whether she would bring forth a similar motion to one being proposed by Thom.

Arresting wake-up call

An astute West Kelowna civilian helped police nab a wanted man.

West Kelowna RCMP responded to a report of a suspicious vehicle parked with people sleeping inside it on the 3600 block of Gellatly Road, Friday afternoon.

Const. Jesse O’Donaghey said police arrived on scene and discovered the white Dodge Caravan had been reported stolen to Penticton RCMP a day earlier.

“RCMP officers arrested a man connected to the vehicle, believed to be under the influence of an intoxicating substance, who allegedly provided investigators with a false name at the scene,” said O’Donaghey.

“The man was with two other women who were identified by police and released at the scene without charge.”

The suspect was identified as a 20-year-old Kelowna man wanted on several outstanding warrants in Campbell River and Kelowna.

“He faces several additional potential charges and was remanded into custody over the weekend,” said O’Donaghey.

Mom will defy council order

Damn the torpedoes, full speed ahead.

That's the attitude of Charrie Fichter, mother of slain Peachland teen Ashlee Hyatt, after council denied a petition to allow her to continue placing flowers on her daughter's Memorial bench.

"They'll continue to remove them and I'll continue to put them on," said Fichter.

"I've been through hell for nine months. Who picks on somebody like this. I have to speak for my daughter because she can't speak for herself."

Hyatt was stabbed to death at  house party in Peachland in June, 2010. For five years, Fichter has been leaving flowers at the waterfront bench.

That was, until earlier this year when municipal staff removed the flowers after receiving one complaint saying the flowers made the person feel sad.

Council revisited the issue this week. The motion, to allow Fichter to continue placing the flowers at the bench, ended in a 3-3 deadlock. The tie vote defeated the motion.

Mayor Cindy Fortin was absent from the meeting, dealing with what Fichter called a medical emergency. Her vote, said Fichter, would have changed the outcome.

It's frustrating, said Fichter. Nine months of swaying some councillors to her side and getting petitions of support, only to lose because the mayor couldn't make it.

"She has been supportive the whole way so I knew I had her vote the whole time.

"But, she said it was 3-3, we lost and I said no, it's 3-3, it's a tie. You can bring it back and have a re-vote because you had a medical emergency."

Fichter said she has the support of many in Peachland. Some people, she said, are even drawing flowers with chalk under the bench to ensure there are always flowers at the special spot.

Opting for natural cures

Dustin Klassen first started noticing an ache in his knee last spring. After X-rays, CT scans and an MRI, the diagnosis came back – cancer.

The MRI showed a tumour in the cartilage of his knee known as Periosteal Chondrosarcoma.

The rare form of bone cancer doesn't respond to chemotherapy and Dustin's only conventional treatment option is surgery.

After several weeks of thought and research on his own, Dustin, a father of a seven and 10-year-old, decided he would not be going through with surgery, but would use a variety of “natural treatments.”

Dustin, who lives in Peachland, is a roofer and doesn't want to lose the use of his leg if the surgery went bad. 

Kayla Klassen, Dustin's wife, says he's been “oxidizing his body” and “raising his pH levels” using a method known as the Miracle Mineral Solution.

While Kayla says they've done extensive research into these natural remedies, Health Canada has issued several warnings about MMS and its key ingredient, sodium chlorite, claiming it “may pose serious health risks.”

“Sodium chlorite is a chemical used mainly as a textile bleaching agent and disinfectant,” Health Canada writes in its most recent of seven health warnings about the solution. “Ingesting sodium chlorite can cause poisoning, kidney failure and harm to red blood cells that reduces the ability of the blood to carry oxygen, among other effects. It can also cause abdominal pain, nausea, vomiting and diarrhea.”

Additionally, Kayla says her husband is taking vitamin B17, using an infrared sauna, and bouncing on a mini trampoline.

“It helps the circulation of your lymph nodes and your lymphatic system and gets rid of the weaker cancer cells,” Kayla said of the trampoline treatment.

The Klassens are also hoping to raise enough money through a GoFundMe campaign to travel to the Hoxsey Biomedical Center in Tijuana, Mexico, a specialty clinic that uses natural herbs, diet, vitamins and minerals and a positive attitude to treat cancer.

The Hoxsey Method of cancer treatment, first developed in the 1920s, has been found by the American Cancer Society, among other medical bodies, to be ineffective in treating cancer.

Kayla says Dustin's doctors have less faith in these natural remedies than they do.

“They were shocked and they don't have the same optimism about natural medicines, naturopathic doctors and curing yourself by natural means,” Kayla said.

Despite not wanting surgery, Dustin has continued to regularly see his doctor, to “keep her in the know.”

He is still keeping surgery in mind as a last resort if the natural remedies aren't successful.

Kayla says about half of the people they have talked to about their natural cancer cures have been supportive, while others are less so.

“When we hear of people who don't like what he's chosen to do, it kind of puts a damper on things and makes you think you're doing the wrong thing, but my husband is very adamant about what he's going to do,” Kayla said. 

The Klassens have raised over $4,300 in 21 days through their GoFundMe page for Dustin's treatments. 

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