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Assault now a murder

A West Kelowna man is facing a murder charge after the man he allegedly stabbed died from his wounds.

Originally charged with aggravated assault, charges against 50-year-old Jose Amestica have now been upgraded to second-degree murder.

The stabbing victim, 44-year-old Kevin McNally, died in hospital May 2 following the attack on Solar Road in West Kelowna on April 29.

Amestica's next court appearance is June 2.

RCMP Cpl. Joe Duncan says the investigation into the stabbing remains active.

Police urge anyone who may have witnessed the altercation between the two men to call West Kelowna RCMP at 250-768-2880.

Remain anonymous by calling CrimeStoppers at 1-800-222-8477, leaving a tip online at or by texting your tip to CRIMES (274637) ktown.


Grass fire closes highway

A small grass fire on Drought Hill, between West Kelowna and Peachland, shut down Highway 97 Friday night.

Firefighters from both communities responded to the fire, about 9:45 p.m.

Motorists who were stuck in the lineup tell Castanet they were held up for about 45 minutes while RCMP closed the highway so fire crews could douse the flames, which were reportedly on both sides of the highway.

Few details are available on the fire at this time, or a cause of the fire.

We'll have more details as they become available.

Were you held up at the scene? Email your photos to [email protected]

Calming South Boucherie

Work on traffic calming measures for the South Boucherie area of West Kelowna is expected to begin in the next few weeks.

The project will include the installation of line markings, signage and decorative medians at key locations.

The construction project is the result of a 2013 traffic calming study for the South Boucherie area that involved the collection of speed and traffic data and public engagement.

Part of the project includes installation of decorative medians along portions of Gregory Road and Mission Hill Road. All roads are expected to remain open throughout construction, however motorists may experience temporary delays and detours.

Motorists are reminded to obey all traffic control signage and personnel during the construction.

The project was awarded to Arterra Construction at a cost of $88,972. It is expected to be complete by the end of June.


Truck strikes hydrant

UPDATE 10:50 A.M.

A BC Hydro worker on site says she heard a loud bang about 8 a.m. and when she looked out the window she saw water gushing into the air.

The District of West Kelowna was called in to shut off the water, while BC Hydro assisted with traffic as a portion of Stevens Road was reduced to alternating lanes.

Water did not appear to cause any damage to the BC Hydro office and the employee on site says she did not believe water leaked into the building.

Several cars in the BC Hydro parking lot were surrounded by ankle deep water as crews worked to disperse the water into a nearby ditch.

A truck and trailer sheared off a fire hydrant in West Kelowna Thursday morning, causing water to gush 20 feet in the air.

The accident occurred about 8 a.m. at the intersection of Stevens Road and Juliann Road, near the BC Hydro building.

The truck remained half in the quickly filling ditch, while crews worked to turn off the water.

The entire area and parking lot was flooded by the time the geyser was turned off, after 8:30 a.m.

The cause of the accident is unknown at this time however, witnesses on scene say the truck was cut off. Fire and police are on the scene.

Stevens Road was closed in both directions.

More details to come. 

Westside shooter in court

A man found guilty of taking part in an infamous 2012 police chase and shooting on Westside Road is now facing a dangerous offender assessment.

In February, Michael Edward Ellis, 41, was found guilty of 17 of 22 charges related to the incident, including pointing a firearm, committing a robbery using a restricted/prohibited firearm, knowingly possessing a firearm without a licence and dangerous operation of a motor vehicle.

He was found not guilty on five attempted murder charges.

Crown counsel wants Ellis labelled a dangerous offender.  If he is designated as such, he will spend an undetermined amount of time behind bars.

According to Crown spokesman Neil MacKenzie, Justice Ian Josephson put through the first step of the process on Tuesday by approving a court-ordered psychiatric assessment.

The in-custody assessment will be completed by a court-appointed psychiatrist to determine if Ellis is a danger to society.

If the recommendations is made, the case will go to a hearing and Ellis could remain in prison indefinitely.

He is expected back in court Aug 10, 2015. 

For more Castanet stories on this case, click here. 

Hospitalized in rollover

The Jaws of Life had to be used to free the driver from a car wreck on the Westside, late Tuesday.

The single-vehicle rollover occurred on the 2000 block of Campbell Road, near Casa Rio Road, about 10:20 p.m.

The car rolled into the ditch, and the male driver was taken to Kelowna General Hospital with undetermined injuries.

Fire, police, B.C. Ambulance and a tow truck responded to the incident.

Campbell Road was closed in both directions for about an hour while the scene was cleared.

Thieves go after food bank

Thieves made not one, but two attempts to gain entry into the West Kelowna Community Food Bank over the long weekend.

Food bank executive director Lenetta Parry, said she got a call about 8 p.m. Saturday night from the alarm company about a potential break in.

"I went to the food bank and police were already on scene. They notified me that there had been an attempted break and enter on the premises," said Parry.

"We worked with police to make sure no entry had been made and made sure the windows were secure. The premises were secured and I left about 9:30."

It appears the would be thieves had attempted to jimmy the door with no success.

Sometime later that evening or Sunday morning, they returned and tried again.

"I arrived at the food bank Sunday morning to find there had been further damage to the door. It appears the thieves tried to make their way back in a desperate attempt to get into the food bank.

"They didn't get in. Two attempts but no entry."

Parry said a possible motive for the attempted break in is not clear. She said the food bank doesn't keep cash or valuables on site.

"We do have a freezer on the side of the building which we keep stocked with bread and buns and muffins and sandwiches. We fill it daily," said Parry.

"There was an emergency phone number on the door so if people needed food over the long weekend they could simply call."

Parry said it's hard to know if this was a case of people wanting food or if it was just a random act of vandalism.

The attempted break in will set the food bank back about $1,000. Parry said a company was prepared to donate the work however, they were not able to do the work until the weekend.

Vandals also were able to get into the Salvation Army Thrift Store drop off site in West Kelowna and caused some damage.

Cause of that damage, if any, is not known.

You're on Candid Camera

Big brother will soon have an eye in the sky over the recently reconstructed CN Wharf on Gellatly Bay.

West Kelowna council, this week, unanimously approved a $12,000 expenditure to purchase a surveillance system for the wharf.

While vandalism and the like is not as big a problem as it was before the upgrade, Mayor Doug Findlater said there have been some issues.

"Somebody gathered some flammables and lit a fire on the decking. There were hatchet marks on one of the pilings and a railing or two have been broken and there's graffiti," said Findlater.

"Then there is the persistent problem of people climbing on what was designed to be climb proof but they still seem to do it. This was the solution."

The district has ready spent about $1,500 to repair damages caused since the wharf reopened a year ago.

ln one instance the vandals were caught by the RCMP and served community service as part of the Restorative Justice Program.

Findlater suggested a gate similar to the one on the old wharf but was told that, while it may prevent after hours problems, there have been problems during the day.

"With the signage, "You're on Candid Camera," and the cameras themselves, we think that will be a deterrent."

According to district staff the video feeds will not be monitored unless there is a report of a problem.

Then, only the district's Chief Administrative Officer, Freedom of Information head, IT manager, facilities manager or RCMP would be given access to the footage.

The RCMP would only become involved through investigation of a law enforcement matter.

The district currently has surveillance cameras in arenas, Municipal Hall and the the Powers Creek Treatment Plant.

Findlater expects there could be more coming.

"I would think there will be one at the transit exchange on Elliott Road but as far as we're concerned that's something BC Transit needs to take a larger role in because it's really their facility."

Findlater said cameras seem to be the best way to deter or catch problem people.

"The world has evolved now and there are cameras everywhere in all kinds of facilities. That seems to be the way they catch a lot of bad people."

Dynamite removed

Update 11:40 p.m.

The bomb disposal unit arrived at Pineridge Mobile Home Park in West Kelowna shortly after 11 p.m.

The material, described as old dynamite which had crystallized was removed from the park.

RCMP officials said the material would be disposed of off site.

By 11:30, residents evacuated were able to return to their homes.

Update: 7:50 p.m.

Residents who have been evacuated from their homes are asked to go to the Lions Hall in Westbank.

Pine Ridge Mobile home park, on Boucherie Road, is being evacuated.

Police on scene say a man was hiking in the woods and came across a backpack with sticks of dynamite inside. He then brought the backpack to his residence in the park and called police. 

Officers inspected the backpack and immediately called the bomb squad in Vancouver, who are on route. 

The dynamite is described as old, unstable and degraded.

About 100 units in the park were evacuated, and police say they strongly urge residents to find other arrangements for the night. 

Emergency Social Services has been brought in to manage shelter for the residents, but it may be difficult finding accommodation as it's the long weekend. Police say they didn't want to put people out of their homes, but had to due to safety concerns. 

ESS will be setting up a command post to deal with those affected by the evacuation. 

Castanet has a reporter on scene and will have more information as it becomes available. 

Crash victim identified

The B.C. Coroners Service has confirmed the identity of a man who died after a motor vehicle incident west of Peachland on Tuesday.

He was Peter Hudyma, aged 84, of Oliver.

Hudyma was the driver and sole occupant of a car that left the Okanagan Connector two kilometres east of Brenda Mine that evening.

Hudyma was deceased at the scene.

The Coroners Service and RCMP Traffic Services continue to investigate the death. 

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