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West Kelowna  

13 years for drug smuggling

A Surrey man convicted of leading a cocaine and ecstasy smuggling ring has been sentenced to 13 year in a U.S. prison, a year after a key witness in his case was shot eight times in West Kelowna. 

U.S. Attorney Annette Hayes says 53-year-old Kevin Kerfoot organized an operation to smuggle 41 kilograms of cocaine to Canada from Washington state in 2005.

Kerfoot was indicted in July 2006, nine months after others involved in the operation were arrested in the Bellingham, Wash., area while attempting to get the cocaine on a boat to Canada.

The boat operator was also bringing more than seven kilograms of ecstasy into the U.S. for distribution through Kerfoot's drug network.

Kerfoot fought extradition from Canada for more than a decade but eventually exhausted his options, leading him to plead guilty in U.S. court in April.

Other members of the smuggling ring, including the boat operator, were sentenced to prison terms ranging three years to more than six years, but have since been released for serving their time.

The boat operator, Reginald Purdom, was a key witness in the case against Kerfoot before the guilty plea in April. 

In August 2016, Purdom was shot eight times in his chest, leg and hand by a man riding a bicycle, while driving in West Kelowna. He survived the shooting. 

Two weeks before the shooting, Kerfoot lost his B.C. Court of Appeal bid to halt his extradition to the U.S.

"This defendant tried to avoid facing the music by getting people to lie during his Canadian extradition proceedings," said Hayes.

"Perhaps he thought he could fight a war of attrition - but this office and our law enforcement partners are committed to holding leaders of drug trafficking organizations responsible for the poison they spread both here and in Canada."

The man accused in the West Kelowna shooting, 29-year-old Tyrone McGee, remains in custody, and is scheduled to next appear in Kelowna Supreme Court in March. 

- with files from The Canadian Press



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Drowning victim identified

Kelowna RCMP have been able to positively identify a man who drowned in Okanagan Lake Wednesday morning.

While not naming the victim, RCMP Cpl. Jesse O'Donaghey said he is a 49-year-old Kelowna man.

“The investigation into the man’s death has now been turned over to the BC Coroners Service, as his death has been deemed not suspicious in nature," said O'Donaghey.

A woman discovered the man's body in the waterfront Casa Loma neighbourhood of West Kelowna.

She noticed a cellphone on a dock, went to investigate, and discovered the man's motionless body in the lake.



Rider killed in crash

UPDATE: Thursday 10:40 a.m.

RCMP say a motorcyclist is dead after a collision with a pickup Wednesday night in West Kelowna.

A northbound Suzuki motorcycle collided with a Dodge Dakota pickup at the intersection of Highway 97 and Elk Road. 

The rider, a 37-year-old West Kelowna man, was rushed to Kelowna General Hospital in grave condition and succumbed to his injuries. The driver of the truck was treated at the scene for minor injuries.

A portion of the highway was closed for several hours as collision analysts examined the scene.

Witness accounts suggest the motorcycle's speed may have been a factor.

Police and the BC Coroners Service continue to investigate.

Witnesses are asked to call West Kelowna RCMP at 250-768-2880.


ORIGINAL: Wednesday 9:37 p.m.

A section of Highway 97 is closed after a collision involving a pickup and motorcycle.

Paramedics and firefighters arrived on scene at Elk Road and Highway 97 at about 9:15 p.m.

It is not clear what caused the collision to occur but at least one person was transported to hospital.

Northbound lanes are closed and traffic is being rerouted on Butt Road.

Castanet will update as information becomes available.



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Casa Loma drowning

RCMP have confirmed a man has died after he was found floating in the waters of Okanagan Lake in front of property on Casa Loma Road.

RCMP and emergency personnel were sent to the scene shortly before 8:30 Wednesday morning.

The investigation into the man's death is in the early stages as RCMP await the arrival of a coroner.

A witness on scene said his neighbour went out to the lakeside after seeing a lone cellphone on the dock. As the woman approached the dock she saw a man lying motionless in the lake. 

“As such, the deceased has not yet been positively identified,” says Cpl. Jesse O’Donaghey.

“The support of the local fire department and a trained dive team will likely be required for the safe recovery of the man’s body.”


ORIGINAL STORY: 9:35 a.m.

Emergency crews are on the scene of what has been described as a possible drowning in West Kelowna.

Crews were called to the beach in front of a home on Casa Loma Road just before 8:30 this morning.

Castanet has a reporter on the scene.

More details to come.



Final flood alerts lifted

The very last evacuation alert for Central Okanagan properties affected by floods has been rescinded, meaning everyone has been able to return home.

Central Okanagan Emergency Operations said Tuesday the following properties are allowed to return:

    •    1302 to 1454 Green Bay Road
    •    3660 to 3697 Green Bay Landing
    •    3575 to 3636 Wiig Road

Removal of sandbags is ongoing, and anyone wanting more information should visit this link.



City gets keys to hall

The City of West Kelowna will officially receive the keys to the Westbank Lions Hall this weekend.

The ceremony, featuring a town crier, piper, municipal, provincial and federal dignitaries, will take place Saturday at 11 a.m.

The city and Lions Club of Westbank reached an agreement earlier this spring to turn hall ownership over.

The city is taking over management of the facility under the condition it will continue to serve the West Kelowna community as it has since first established in 1928.

The contract indicates the land will always be used for the purpose of operating a community hall for the benefit of residents of West Kelowna and that the land may not be transferred, conveyed, encumbered, mortgaged, redeveloped or otherwise disposed of.

The Lions offered the hall to the city because of a rapidly declining membership.

"The people who are left are just not capable of doing the hard work that is needed. Looking after the hall, repairing it and cleaning it," Lions president David Knowles said at the time.



Young boys rescued on lake

Strong gusting winds pushed two young boys who were fishing on Okanagan Lake Sunday almost a half a kilometre from the shore, before they were rescued by police.

Two officers were conducting boat patrols on the lake at about 2:30 p.m. near Peachland when they came across two boys, aged 12 and 13, on an “inexpensive rubber dinghy.”

“The pair were fishing together along the shoreline when sudden strong winds, gusting up to approximately 50 km/h, pushed the boys into the middle of the lake,” said Cpl. Jesse O'Donaghey of the Kelowna RCMP.

The officers brought the boys on board their RCMP vessel, transported them back to the beach in Peachland, and told their parents about what had happened.

“Our officers took the time to discuss the peril the youths had placed themselves in,” said Cpl. Jesse O’Donaghey. “Those officers wanted to remind the public to ensure they are always prepared when they venture out on the water, that they wear proper life jackets, bring a sound signalling device or other means of communication, as well as carry a means of propulsion such as a paddle or oar if at all possible.”



17 year old still missing

West Kelowna RCMP have followed up on several leads, but have still not been able to find a missing teenager.

Jake Fehr, 17, was last seen at his family home on Chieftain Road during the early morning hours of July 13.

Police do not believe foul play to be involved, but are very concerned for Fehr's health and well-being.

Fehr is described as a Caucasian male, five feet five inches tall, 130 pounds, with blonde hair and blue eyes.

It is believed that he was wearing grey pants, a red T-shirt and black running shoes at the time of his disappearance.

His sister posted on social media, saying Fehr left his "ID and wiped the hard drive on his computer." She's looking for someone who can recover the lost data.

His family said this behaviour is abnormal and it's out of character for him to be out of contact for this long.

Anyone with information is asked to contact West Kelowna RCMP at 250-768-2880.



Crash with tree claims life

RCMP and the coroners office are investigating a single-vehicle crash that killed one person on Brenda Mines Forest Service Road near Peachland Monday afternoon.

Police say the 53-year-old man died after his vehicle collided with a tree about 1 p.m.

“Passers-by with medical training, who were first to arrive on scene, are credited with calling 911 ... pulling the male from his vehicle and starting CPR,” said Cpl. Jesse O’Donaghey.

“Despite the tireless efforts of the group of Good Samaritans and both ground and airborne medical crews, the man was pronounced deceased at the scene."

O'Donaghey says speed may have played a role in the crash.

Efforts to contact the man's next of kin are ongoing.



Caught in closed park

Alanna Kelly

UPDATE: 2:30 p.m.

The City of West Kelowna has not issued any fines for people illegally accessing closed parks, but won't hesitate if people are caught.

"We are doing routine patrols and we have extra support to patrol our parks," said Kirsten Jones, Communications Supervisor at City of West Kelowna.

The extreme fire hazard rating was the reason Eain Lamont Park closed.

"We take into account it is a forest area, is it really dry and are we near interface with homes," she said. "This park particularly was closed because of the high fire risk.”

Jones added there are other parks people can visit and they will implement a fine if they catch people in the area.

"We can’t be everywhere, at every entrance, at all times so we do rely on people calling us in to let us know when people are accessing inappropriately."


ORIGINAL: 11:15 a.m.

Almost a week after several Okanagan parks have been closed due to fire danger, people are ignoring posted closure signs.

A resident living in view of Eain Lamont Park on West Kelowna's Mount Boucherie has spotted several people walking by 'Danger, Keep Out' signs posted on trails there.

“There were two cars with three people that pulled up to the closed gate (on Friday),” said the resident.

“One was preparing a backpack and another one was smoking! I yelled down to them that the trails were closed and waited until they left.”

The resident called the West Kelowna Bylaw office and was told it's difficult to control, but that they would send an officer over.

Castanet contacted the City of West Kelowna and is awaiting a response.

Anyone found inside a closed regional park could face a fine of $500.

The following parks remain closed:

    •    Trepanier Creek Greenway Regional Park.
    •    Coldham Regional Park
    •    Glen Canyon Regional Park
    •    Kalamoir Regional Park
    •    Rose Valley Regional Park
    •    Rose Valley Trail access – McDougall Road
    •    Stephens Coyote Regional Park
    •    Scenic Canyon Regional Park
    •    Mission Creek Greenway (Phase 2)
    •    Mt. Boucherie Trails – including Boucherie Rush and Boucherie Grind
    •    Eain Lamont Park – Lakeview Cove Road
    •    Casa Palmero Park and Walkway – Casa Palmero Drive
    •    Davidson Creek Park  - Shannon Woods Drive
    •    Shannon Way Park – Shannon Way
    •    Rock Ridge Park – Griffiths Place
    •    Wild Horse Park – Wild Horse Drive



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