Monday, July 28th25.9°C
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One injured in plane crash

UPDATE: 9:10 P.M.

Castanet has confirmed the pilot of a small plane is being transported to hospital after his plane crashed 6km northwest of Vernon.

Lt. Navy Greg Menzies with the Joint Rescue Coordination Centre in Victoria confirmed the discovery shortly after 9 p.m. Monday.

Menzies says a single witness report was made to authorities stating they were concerned about a low flying plane in the area.

The witness then stated hearing two thuds and believed the plane had gone down.

Menzies says two aircraft were dispatched from 10-Wing in Comox, however, both have since been ordered to stand down.

Castanet news editor Trevor Rockliffe says the pilot had been bandaged around the head but was seen walking around.

He was transported by ground to hospital.

The plane is believed to be a Cessna float plane.


Castanet is heading to the scene of what is being reported as a downed airplane in the Westside Road area near Vernon.

Reports are sketchy at the moment, however, Fire Information Officer, Kayla Pepper has confirmed an initial attack crew has been dispatched by the Wildfire Management Branch to the Vernon area.

Pepper says those crews will be assisting local ambulance and firefighting crews with an incident involving an airplane.

RCMP spokesman Gord Molendyk says the reports are, at this time, unconfirmed.

"We are trying desperately to confirm this," says Molendyk.

Molendyk says a search is underway in the Six Mile Creek area off Westside Road after a single report of a plane going down.

RCMP and Vernon Search and Rescue are involved in the search.

More details when they become available.



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Parachutist hits house

An unidentified man was taken to hospital Monday afternoon after a parachute jump went wrong.

The man was apparently scheduled to land at the Vernon airport, however, he missed his mark and hit a house.

RCMP spokesman, Gord Molendyk, says the man apparently hit the side of a house somewhere south of the airport.

Emergency crews responded and transported the man to hospital.

The extent of his injuries are not known.

More details to come when they become available.

Send video, pictures to [email protected]



Man arrested for sex assault

Charges have now been laid after a lengthy sexual assault investigation in Armstrong.

Forty-five year old Joseph Vance Caron of Armstrong has been charged with sexual assault, unlawful confinement, uttering threats and attempt to choke while committing a sexual offence.

The sex assault took place near the end of May, but according to Gord Molendyk of the Vernon/North Okanagan RCMP, the investigation that followed required forensic evidence to assist in the identification of their suspect.

Court records show that Caron spent time in jail following a previous sexual assault in 2010.

He has been remanded into custody and will appear in court on July 30.



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Speeding cars impounded

It was a need for speed kind of weekend in the North Okanagan, as the RCMP impounded six vehicles on Highway 97 near Vernon.

Each of the cars pulled off the road were clocked at speeds ranging between 48-83 km over the posted speed limit.

Five of the vehicles were licensed to BC drivers, says Gord Molendyk of the Vernon RCMP, including:

  • 19-year-old man from the Vernon area
  • 65-year-old man from the Vernon area
  • 17-year-old woman from the Vernon area
  • 2 other male drivers from BC
  • 1 male from Alberta driving a 2015 BMW

Molendyk says the 19-year-old even turned in his radar detector to an officer, commenting that he didn’t want it anymore because it did not seem to help.

The RCMP are asking everyone to slow down. Even with speed limits set to increase south of Vernon this fall, 80 per cent of their excessive speed traffic stops would still result in impounds.



Booze on Vernon sidewalk patios

Sidewalk patios in Vernon can now serve alcohol.

The City of Vernon has updated its bylaws to allow liquor service on sidewalk patios following a request from the soon-to-be-opened Naked Pig BBQ and Smokehouse.

In April, the restaurant owned by Marten Brewing Company Ltd., requested that Council change their Sidewalk and Boulevard Use Permit Policy, which outlines the application process and criteria for sidewalk patios, sidewalks displays and mobile vending. 

Liquor service on sidewalk patios was prohibited in the policy, which has been in place since 2005.
 
After consultations with the Downtown Vernon Association, changes to the policy were drafted.

On Monday, Council supported changes and amended the Policy to allow the provision of liquor service on sidewalk patios. 

They also included patio design criteria, hours of operations and fee changes to cover administration and lease rates.

The Liquor Control and Licensing Branch of BC approvals are also required for liquor patio service. 
 
The City Centre Neighbourhood Plan supports the policy changes in an effort to foster an attractive, lively, vibrant downtown.

More sidewalk patios can help foster greater economic activity and a positive downtown atmosphere.

"While well-designed sidewalk patios can benefit business owners economically by expanding seating capacity and attract customers, patrons get to benefit from sitting outdoors to take full advantage of the region's climate," said Tanya Laing Gahr, the city's communications co-ordinator.

Patios also provide opportunities for people to use the sidewalks in different ways and usually for longer time periods. Active streets bustling with people enhance the sidewalk experience, increase safety and are visually interesting for passersby. 
 
Businesses interested in developing a sidewalk patio or display area are encouraged to contact the City of Vernon Bylaw Division at 250-550-3505 or email [email protected]



Crime and the news

As the Vernon arsonist or arsonists continue to wreak havoc on the North Okanagan, residents are searching for answers and accusations are being made.

A common accusation lately on local media comment sections and social media posts, including our own, is that media coverage of a person, like an arsonist, causes the criminal to reoffend.

In fact, some suggest that even if a large fire were to occur again in the coming days, local media should not cover the event at all.

In response, Castanet went to an expert on the topic to ask if there is a real correlation between media coverage and crime. And whether news companies should stop coverage entirely.

Former UBCO professor and current Associate Professor of Law & Society at Wilfrid Laurier University, Dr. Christopher J. Schneider, is an expert in 'Crime and media.'

He says that although it may seem like there is an obvious connection between news stories and seemingly reactive crime, there is no evidence to support the theory that news coverage causes, worsens or even decreases crime.

“I think that is an easy sort of jump or leap for commenters to be making but we can never establish this connection with absolute certainty, especially when the perpetrator or perpetrators have not been apprehended,” explains Schneider. “Until we hear from them and they say 'I saw the story on Castanet and lit the fire because of it,' we absolutely cannot say that.”

He notes that news media does play a huge role in bringing increased attention to stories like this. And that in some circumstances in the past, copy cat offenders or copy-cat arsonists have been created. But, he says the connection between the two has not been made with absolute certainty.

“Just because a story goes on the news there is no evidence to support the theory that it causes people to light fires,” says Schneider.

Castanet, along with several other North Okanagan media organizations, ran pieces on Monday noting that the arsonist had not struck for over two weeks. That same night someone struck again.

This immediately had some made blaming the media for enticing the person to strike again. But Schneider says the empirical evidence does not support such an assumption.

“At this point we don't know if it is the same person committing this arson, or persons, or copy cats, we just don't know. It makes sense for many readers and many consumer of news media that one leads to another but this is an approach that has been dismissed in academic research literature,” says Schneider. 

“For all we know that person might have planned to light the fire that night and they might not have even seen, read or heard about the story.”

He says this need to blame the media, or the police or anyone really is entirely understandable. He says we, the long abiding citizens of Vernon and the Okanagan, want and need to make sense of crime.

“This is something that seems to make sense, story is on Castanet then there is a fire that night and clearly this person read the story and lit the fire and now it make sense. We can go to bed at night and sleep because we feel we understand it.”

Schnieder believes that at the end of the day the media has a role to play in providing information that affects the community. The possibility of a link between that coverage and further crime is not a reason to stop covering the story. 

“The role of the media is to report what is going on and if there is a series of fires and a lull in that series that it is perfectly reasonable to report on this,” says Schneider. “The news media cannot control what other people do with their information. Their job is to put the information out there and what people do with it is beyond their control.”

He also points out that news agencies aren't the only source of information. In fact, in the world of heightened social media activity, any person in the Okanagan could have posted or tweeted or blogged about the two weeks without a fire and to blame that person would be just as ridiculous. The research done on this topic simply does not support this theory.

“We cannot say with certainty that media causes crime. Is there an influence? Ya sure. Is it influential to certain crime? Perhaps. Does it cause crime? No. Do media, TV, movies cause crime? No,” says Schneider.

The arsonist(s) have now set over 22 fires in the North Okanagan. The more recent two at the BC Fruit Grower' Plant and the Kin Race Track Grandstand were by far the largest and most damaging. 

Anyone with any information relating to any of the suspicious fires can call the Vernon RCMP at (250)-545-7171 or remain anonymous by calling Crimestoppers at 1-800-222-8477.



MV Okanagan gets hung up

An unmanned tugboat is causing problems on the northern edge of Okanagan Lake.

Residents say the MV Okanagan had already broken free of its mooring before it wound up stuck in the mud, out front of several homes.

The boat is believed to have ran aground following Wednesday night’s thunderstorm and currently sits on the west side of the lake, in the northern arm of Okanagan Lake.

“We had seen it floating back and forth across the lake from us on Wednesday and around 11 (pm) we were standing on the dock, looking into the darkness,” explained LeeAnn Louis.

“And then we all went to bed until our neighbour came by and asked if we knew where the boat was. He’s like ‘It’s right there’. I can literally throw a rock onto it from where I’m standing.”

She says to the best of her knowledge the tugboat hasn’t damaged anything yet, but she is concerned since there are docks and expensive powerboats nearby.

Guy Gadbois, one of the boats' owners, confirms the tug slipped its mooring during Wednesday’s thunderstorm.

“We had steel pilings in place that the boat was anchored to, and there was a huge cable that was hooked to the nose of the boat,” he says.

“The waves were so big, they pulled the cables off of the pilings. There was such a stretch put on the cable loops that they actually went over the restraining shackles at the end.”

Gadbois says that should not happen again as he has put two-foot wide restraining caps on the pilings and is now ready to reattach the tugboat to the anchor system.

The only issue now is how they will go ahead and pull the tug out from the mud.

They hope to have the vessel freed up by the end of the day, and back at its mooring around the point from Adventure Bay.



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