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Salmon Arm  

Missing are not forgotten

They are missing, but certainly not forgotten.

Four women remain missing from the North Okanagan area, and today a banner will be placed on a bridge on Haywood Road near Salmon River Road in Silver Creek at 5:30 p.m. to keep their disappearance in the public eye.

Ashley Simpson, Deanna Wertz, Caitlin Potts and Nicole Bell all disappeared within the last 20 months from the Enderby-Sicamous area.

Traci Genereaux, whose remains were found at a farm near Silver Creek, was last seen alive on May 29.

There have been no charges in her death that police are calling suspicious.

Genereaux was last heard from in Vernon and RCMP are asking people with information about her activities leading up May 29 to contact them at 1-877-987-8477.

The banner on the bridge will read “No more stolen sisters.”

Bell’s parents and Simpson’s cousin will be in attendance to represent their loved ones.

Following the banner drop, a caravan of activists, concerned community members and friends will travel from the bridge to the area where Bell’s phone was located and where she was last seen.

The group will then hand out posters to public in hopes of gathering information for the RCMP on Bell’s disappearance.

Organizer Meghan Louis said the banner drop is in honour of Simpson's 34th birthday Wednesday.

“Her family did a balloon release in Ontario,” said Louis. “So we decided to do something for Ashley Simpson's birthday. This was another birthday without her and they miss her terribly.”

Louis said they will also be asking people in the Yankee Flats, Enderby and Sicamous area for permission to search their property in hopes of finding any trace of the missing women.

A celebration of life will be held Tuesday at 1 p.m. at Vernon’s Upper Room Mission to remember Genereaux.



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Drones could help search

John Simpson is determined to use the novel experience he gained in a troubling search for his daughter to help others who have lost loved ones.

Ashley Simpson went missing near Salmon Arm in April 2016, and this spring her father travelled there from Ontario for a second time. He believed her body might be along the banks of a river or creek.

The area had been flooded and it was too dangerous to search on foot, but Simpson had an idea. He told friends he wanted to borrow a drone, and was put in touch with a surprisingly young expert — a 14-year-old boy with a fleet of drones and a strong commitment to his hobby.

"It really got me thinking," said Simpson in a recent phone interview from his home in Niagara-on-the-Lake, Ont. "Watching this young man, and his drone ... He can go thousands of feet in the air and he can hover just three or four inches off the ground. If it was going to come to an obstacle, it would stop. ... It's absolutely amazing."

Simpson hired the boy to search the mouth of the Salmon River where it flows into Shuswap Lake. Although his daughter wasn't found, Simpson was resolved to get more drones into the hands of volunteer crews searching for missing people.

Since Ashley Simpson went missing last year at age 32, her family in Ontario has held an annual barbecue to fundraise for women's shelters. This year, they added a golf tournament and her father used the proceeds to purchase four inexpensive drones, two of which he sent to a missing-women's advocate in B.C.

RCMP wrapped up a wide-scale search of a Silver Creek farm last week. Cpl. Dan Moskaluk said human remains found at the property were confirmed to belong to one person, 18-year-old Traci Genereaux. Her death is being treated as suspicious but no charges have been laid.

At least four other women, including Simpson, remain missing in the region.

John Simpson doesn't believe drones will now find his daughter. His aim is to help others who are searching for their loved ones, especially in the crucial first days after they go missing. He eventually hopes to have a Canada-wide network of volunteer drone search teams.



Investigation into fatal crash


RCMP and the B.C. Coroners Service are investigating a fatal crash involving two vehicles on the Trans Canada Highway.

A loaded commercial motor vehicle and Toyota Tacoma pick-up truck collided near Salmon Arm at about noon on Monday.

Salmon Arm Detachment, Trans Canada East Traffic Services, EHS and Fire emergency services personnel responded to the collision.

A 62-year-old man from Salmon Arm was the driver of the Toyota and succumbed to his injuries and was pronounced dead at the scene.

The driver of the semi-truck was from Kamloops and was not injured.

The cause of the collision is still being investigated.



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3 hurt in Hwy 1 crash

Three people were taken to hospital following a head-on crash on Highway 1 at the Salmon River Bridge in Salmon Arm Sunday night.

Salmon Arm RCMP were called at 6:48 p.m. to the collision between two pickup trucks.

“The investigation at the scene indicated that one vehicle was traveling westbound while the other was traveling eastbound into Salmon Arm,” said Staff Sgt. Scott West, detachment commander. “The vehicle traveling westbound crossed into the oncoming lane. Both trucks were severely damaged.”

West said three people, including a 69-year-old man from Sorrento and two people from Salmon Arm, a man and a woman, both 33, were transported to hospital. He did not describe their injuries.

West said the road was covered in ice leading to extremely slippery conditions.

An investigation continues.



School bus crash at Tappen

A school bus was involved in a crash in the Tappen Valley, Friday.

North Okanagan-Shuswap School District spokesperson Alice Hucul says the accident happened this afternoon.

School Supt. Peter Jory said the bus was involved in a minor collision with another vehicle when the bus was stopped on Cemetary Road in Tappen Valley.

As a precaution, one student was taken to hospital by ambulance to be checked out. Another bus was called to take the remaining students home.

Parents were all called and informed about the accident.

RCMP, firefighters and paramedics all attended the scene.

Another school bus crash on Thursday claimed a man's life in Westwold.



Sicamous bridge probe

Transportation ministry officials will be undertaking fieldwork this month, looking at the options for improving safety and replacing the existing two-lane RW Bruhn Bridge on Highway 1 in Sicamous.

Residents and travellers may see activity along the highway right-of-way, in the Sicamous Narrows, and east and west of the RW Bruhn Bridge approaches, said a ministry press release.

There will be archeological investigations within the proposed project limits and geotechnical drilling east and west of the bridge approaches and underwater.

The work is not expected to impact traffic on Highway 1, the ministry stated.

The bridge replacement project is part of the four-laning program for Highway 1 between Kamloops and the Alberta border.

Earlier this year, the ministry reported that a majority of people had indicated they'd like to see the old bridge replaced by a much larger, five-lane structure.



Cops bust armed robbers

With guns drawn, Salmon Arm RCMP took down three robbery suspects in the Shuswap city Tuesday.

The action began at approximately 4:30 p.m. on Halloween, when police received a 911 call from a business in the Tappen area reporting an armed robbery had just taken place.

“The suspect had shown a gun to an employee at the store and demanded money before fleeing the scene in a grey pick up truck,” said Staff Sgt. Scott West.

A witness was able to provide police with a description of the occupants of the truck and a detailed description of the truck they left in, including the licence plate.

“An alert officer, who was in the downtown Salmon Arm area at the time and en route to the scene in Tappen, spotted the suspect vehicle traveling east on Highway 1 in the downtown area. Several police cars immediately converged on the vehicle,” said West.

The suspect vehicle was stopped at the intersection of Highway 1 and Alexander Street where three suspects, two males and one female were taken into custody.

“Police recovered an undisclosed amount of money, stolen property, and a firearm. The vehicle involved was also seized,” said West.

The robbery investigation is ongoing at this time but all three suspects, a 27-year-old male from Kamloops, a 36-year-old male from the Salmon Arm area and a 22-year-old female from Kamloops are in police custody at this time, police said.



Should trustees be cut?

The public is being invited to have their say on whether the number of trustees on the North Okanagan Shuswap school board should be cut.

Trustees were fired from their nine-member board by the education minister last year following a special advisor's report and a loss of public confidence, although a couple of trustees had already quit.

Former Surrey school district superintendent Mike McKay was appointed as official trustee for School District 83 in their place. He is expected to remain in that position until the next scheduled election.

One of the recommendations in the special advisor's June 2016 report was to consider a reduction in the number of elected trustees.

McKay has begun work with partner groups on a possible plan and now invites input from the public prior to finalizing a recommendation for the eduction ministry before the end of December.

Options include:

  • maintaining the status quo of nine trustees from the seven wards across the school district
  • reducing the size of the board to seven trustees, with various options to achieve that reduction
  • reducing the size of the board to five trustees, with various options to achieve that reduction

Residents can provide feedback online, suggest a different option or send an email with their thoughts on the subject.

The deadline for input is Dec. 8.



Inattention leads to crash

It pays to look where you are going.

A member of the Salmon Arm RCMP was on patrol just before 4 a.m. on Sunday morning when he came across a single vehicle crash at the Highway 97B and Trans-Canada Highway intersection.

"A truck being driven north on Highway 97B by a 29-year-old male from Salmon Arm, failed to stop or turn at the Trans Canada intersection and drove straight across the Trans Canada Highway at highway speed," said Staff Sgt. Scott West, detachment commander. "The vehicle then collided with the embankment on the north side of the Trans Canada Highway."

West said both the driver and a passenger were taken to hospital for treatment of non-life threatening injuries. As well, the vehicle was heavily damaged.

"Alcohol was ruled out as a causal factor in the collision and it is believed that driver inattention played a factor in the crash."



Conscious after skydive

Salmon Arm RCMP say a 39-year-old Kelowna man was conscious and talking to rescuers after a skydiving incident near the local airport on Sunday.

“During the skydive, the man's main chute had issues and was jettisoned,” said a press release issued by Staff Sgt. Scott West, head of the Salmon Arm detachment. “Parts of the primary chute became entangled in the secondary chute.

“As a result of the drag from the secondary chute, the male was slowed somewhat before hitting the ground.”

The man was airlifted by BC Air Ambulance to Kelowna General Hospital for treatment, Scott said.

The skydiver is highly experienced, according to a spokesperson for Skydive Salmon Arm.

After the main parachute malfunctioned, the jumper used the reserve chute to save his life. He sustained a broken pelvis from the hard landing, an official statement from the company stated.



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