Large diesel spill

Police are investigating after a large amount of diesel was spilled in a parking lot in Kelowna.

Firefighters responded to the parking lot near 750 McCurdy Road on Sunday afternoon and found diesel pooled.

Platoon Capt. John Kelly said firefighters on scene figured there was about 200 litres spilled.

“There was probably some product still left in the tanks so we used a bunch of our absorbent material to soak it up,” said Kelly.

It’s believed that someone was allegedly stealing fuel from the tanks of transport trucks, but that has not yet been confirmed.

"The fuel originated from a large delivery truck. RCMP were notified and requested to the scene as the fuel tanks of a delivery truck appeared to be damaged," said Kelly.

Ministry of the Environment and City of Kelowna utility crew were called and after firefighters cleaned up the spill, it was deemed not hazardous.


Car burns on highway

Alanna Kelly

Traffic on Hwy. 97 southbound near Oyama was slowed after a vehicle caught fire Sunday afternoon.

Lake Country Fire Department members were reportedly on scene as of 3 p.m. fighting the blaze.

There is no report of injuries at this stage.

Castanet will have more details on this incident once confirmed by responders.

Castanet's week in review

Castanet's week in review with Nich Johansen.


Chance of thunderstorms

Father's Day celebrants will enjoy a hot, sunny day Sunday, and they might see a light show Sunday night.

Environment Canada says there is a 30 per cent chance of showers with a risk of thunderstorms tonight in the Kelowna area.

The wind is also expected to pick up, becoming northwest 20 km/h near noon today.

The high temp is expected to hit 30 C with a UV Index of 9 or very high.

Skies should clear overnight with a low expected of 15 C.

Monday should be a baker, with a 30 C high and a humidex of 33.

Rubber boa a rare find

Brett Press had an Okanagan first recently.

"First time I've ever seen one of those in my 38 years of living in Kelowna," Press tells Castanet.

Press came across what he believes is a rubber boa, a species native to the Western United States and British Columbia, including the Okanagan.

"I was leaving my shop in Winfield industrial park off Jim Bailey Road came across a small baby snake I'm told it's a rubber boa local to the area," Press says.

"I've only seen garter snakes as a kid growing up here or listening to rattlesnakes at the bush. They are friendly and don't bite. My friend said it was a rare find."

Rubber boas are one of the smaller boa species, adults can be anywhere from half a metre to a metre in length.

They are primarily nocturnal and most active during dawn and dusk, which is typically when they are encountered.

The name comes from the look of their skin which is often loose and wrinkled and consists of small scales that are smooth and shiny, giving the snakes a rubber-like look and texture. These snakes are typically tan to dark brown. Newborns often appear pink and slightly transparent but darken with age.

Press says, "I should have taken a picture of it when I picked it up it kind of curled around my fingers and I sort of took it to the edge of the property." Press says it looked like the snake was struggling to wiggle its way on the asphalt at night so he gave it a helping hand.

Rubber boas are the most Northerly of Boa species but they range from California to British Columbia in the western United States.

There have also been rare sightings in Colorado and Alberta. B.C. is also the highest latitude of any boa, which means it is the closest that is  the closest point to either pole for a boa.

These snakes can be found at elevations anywhere from sea level to 3,000 metres and they live off of young mammals such as shrews, voles, mice, etc.

They are not as tolerant of  hot temperatures and can be found under shelter like rocks, logs, leaf litter, burrows, etc. They do also need  adequate warmth, moisture, and prey.

Rubber boas are considered one of the most docile of the boa species and are often used to help people overcome their fear of snakes.

C-17 special delivery

A damaged aircraft was brought into Kelowna for repairs Friday – in the belly of another aircraft.

The partial de Havilland Canada CC-138 Twin Otter was brought to KF Aerospace in the body of a Canadian Forces C-17 transport plane.

The C-17 touched down at Kelowna International Airport Friday afternoon.

The Twin Otter suffered significant damage from an incident in the high north three months ago.

According to Aviation Safety Network, the plane was engaged in a military exercise about 140 kilometres north of Inuvik when it struck a snowdrift while landing on some sea ice. 

The incident happened March 11.

Capt. Jen Halliwell with 1 Canadian Air Division in Winnipeg tells Castanet News the Defence Department ferried the wreck down to Inuvik while they assessed the best way to get the plane to Kelowna.

"This is the first time we've moved a Twin Otter in a C-17 like this," said Halliwell. "We had to look into that and see how we were going to do that. We had to get the packaging parts custom made to make sure they would fit into a C-17."

The size of the Twin Otter necessitated the plane be transported in stages.

After delivering the the first part of the plane Friday, the C-17 left Saturday morning and was to return either Saturday afternoon or Sunday with the rest of the aircraft.

KF Aerospace has been performing maintenance and repairs of Department of Defence planes for about 10 years.

RCMP seek getaway car

RCMP are asking for help from the public to find a stolen vehicle they believe was involved in an assault with a weapon Friday in Kelowna.

On June 14 at 9:13 p.m., Kelowna RCMP received a report of stabbing in the 1000 block of Wilson Road. Emergency crews responded to the area to find the victim bleeding from a stab wound. Bystanders were providing first aid.

The victim, a Kelowna man in his 20s, was medically assessed at the scene by emergency paramedics. He was transported to hospital by BC Emergency Health Services for medical treatment which were believed to be non-life threatening.

Police are searching for two men who were associated to a stolen white 2013 four-door Dodge Dart, with B.C. licence plate GX209E. Both men were described as wearing shorts and a T-shirt. One of the suspects was further described as an Asian male, heavyset and balding.

"RCMP are actively searching for the crime vehicle at this time," said Cpl. Jesse O’Donaghey, media relations officer for the Kelowna RCMP. "Anyone who spots the Dodge Dart abandoned or mobile on our roadways, is urged not to not approach it and call 911 immediately."

"RCMP have reason to believe this was an isolated event, and not a random attack," said O’Donaghey.

If you witnessed this incident, or you have any additional information that may be of assistance, you are asked to call the Kelowna RCMP at 250-762-3300. Or remain completely anonymous by calling Crime Stoppers at 1-800-222-8477 or by leaving a tip online at www.crimestoppers.net

2 month addiction solution

Operators of The Bridge Youth and Family Services say Kelowna and the Central Okanagan is woefully underserved when it comes to addiction and recovery services.

They claim they could meet that demand in just two months, if the province would loosen the purse strings and make the investment needed in the region.

Celine Thompson, executive director of The Bridge, says the Central Okanagan is lagging behind the rest of the province.

Speaking before the Select Standing Committee on Finance and Government Services, Thompson showed how they could use current infrastructure and expertise to expand services within 60 days.

She says the Central Okanagan has the solutions, but lacks the financial resources.

An investment by the province would increase both access and responsiveness of the system to get people the help they need in an appropriate environment.

Thompson says The Bridge, a non-profit organization, offers three areas which, with the proper investment would be able to provide care to people when, and where they need it.

These include live-in treatment for youth under 19 who struggle with substance abuse, facility-based treatment for adults and withdrawal management services.


Jury finds Pirko guilty

UPDATE: 1:50 p.m.

After a jury convicted Steven Pirko of second-degree murder Saturday morning, he's expected to be sentenced later this summer. 

The jury delivered the verdict after a day and a half of deliberation. Second-degree murder carries an automatic life sentence with no eligibility of parole for at least 10 years. On Saturday, the jury recommended Pirko be ineligible for parole for at least 12 years. 

The sentencing decision ultimately lies with Justice Allan Betton, but he'll be taking the jury's recommendation into consideration. Pirko's next court date is scheduled for July 2, when a sentencing date is expected to be set. 

Ausman's mother Annie Hutton, who's attended almost all of the trial dates, was relieved the jury convicted the man who killed her son. 

Pirko's defence counsel Jordan Watt said he was surprised with the murder conviction. 

"It's a tragic situation for (Pirko) and obviously for the Ausman family, so it's been a horrible experience," Watt said. "There were many issues that the jury had to deal with ... Obviously when you've got alcohol and drugs that influence your behaviour, unfortunately things like this happen."  

Watt added Pirko has been holding up "horribly" after the conviction. 

ORIGINAL: 11:10 a.m.

Seven weeks after Steven Pirko’s second-degree murder trial began, the 12-person jury delivered a guilty verdict Saturday morning. 

The conviction comes 31 months after Pirko was arrested and charged in Chris Ausman’s death, and a day and a half after the jury began deliberating. 

As the verdict was read, Ausman’s mother Annie, who attended almost every trial date, wept. Pirko’s mother Carrie wiped away tears as her son was convicted of murder.  

Throughout the trial, the jury heard Pirko and his friend Elrich Dyck were walking east along Highway 33 in the early hours of Jan. 25, 2014 after leaving a birthday party. Both were intoxicated. 

Pirko testified that Dyck had been looking to pick a fight with a stranger that night, and at 1:38 a.m., Ausman gave him the fight he was looking for. 

After Dyck began losing the consensual fight, Pirko says Dyck called out for help, and Pirko hit Ausman in the back of the head several times with a hammer he had been carrying. Ausman dropped to the ground and Pirko and Dyck ran from the scene. 

Ausman’s body was found by a passing police officer a short while later. 

While police identified Pirko as a suspect in the death within a few days, thanks to surveillance cameras in the area, he wasn’t arrested until almost three years later. He confessed to the killing soon after. Saturday’s conviction comes five and a half years after Ausman’s death. 

During the trial, Pirko said he was only trying to protect his friend when he hit Ausman with the hammer. The jury ultimately found Pirko’s actions weren’t reasonable under the circumstances. 

Second-degree murder carries an automatic life sentence with no possibility of parole for at least 10 years. 

Flyboarding firefighters

Madison Erhardt

Kelowna's professional firefighters were hard at work – or rather play – on Okanagan Lake Friday afternoon.

About a dozen firefighters tried out some free flyboarding courtesy of Okanagan Flyboard as they had action photos taken for an upcoming firefighters calendar at the Manteo Resort docks. 

''It's actually not as hard as it looks, it was a blast,'' one of the firefighters said. 

Images from the event, staged as a thank you to those who protect the city, will be used in a calendar that will benefit the Kelowna Professional Firefighter's Charitable Society. The society supports several local charities.

Off-duty members volunteer at numerous fundraising events throughout the year.

We will making a calendar with pictures to raise money for their society," said Okanagan Flyboard owner Devon Spittle.

''If you're wondering the reason we chose firefighters it was because our first article with you I described flyboarding as 'hooking up a firehose to a seadoo.' I thought firefighters were a great fit. Saving lives with hoses and now having fun,'' he added. 

Want to try it for yourself, contact Spittle and Co. online

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