Moving vehicle struck by firework in Kelowna

Firework strikes moving car

A Kelowna woman says she and her 88-year-old mother are both rattled after a close call with a firework last weekend.

Monique Saebels tells Castanet she was driving down Sumac Drive, near the Sikh Gurdwara, at 8:30 p.m. on Nov. 12 with her window rolled down when a firework hit her car and almost flew through the open window.

"The firework came inches from hitting me or my 88-year-old mother. This is not okay, we could have been killed," she said, explaining she saw four men on the street setting off fireworks and one was holding the fireworks in his hand.

"We were pretty shaken up, I couldn't sleep all night," Saebels said.

She reported the incident to the RCMP, which told Castanet they responded to the call and searched for suspects.

"An officer made patrols for the parties responsible believed to be associated with a black SUV, police followed up with the complainant to ensure their well-being," said Kelowna RCMP spokesperson Cpl. Michael Gauthier.

Saebels said she has no ill will toward the South Asian community and respects their right to celebrate Diwali but she was so upset she went to the Okanagan Sikh Gurdwara the next day to complain.

She spoke with Andy Sandhu who said the Gurdwara had nothing to do with the fireworks display.

"Fireworks at the temple are prohibited," Sandhu told Castanet.

Despite the temple not having anything to do with the incident, Sandhu has offered to pay Saebels' deductible and help get the damage to her car's paint job fixed.

"She was upset, that's all we could do to make her happy," Sandhu said.

"The reason they were there is because we kicked them out of the parking lot. They were not allowed to use our premises."

Saebels says she is thankful for the offer and the sentiment but she can't understand why so many people are allowed to set off fireworks within city limits when it is illegal to do so without a permit.

"Why was it okay that hundreds of people were in the streets doing this? Where was the police presence? I am reaching out to you to report how unsafe this was for our community," Saebels said.

RCMP tells Castanet of the 111 incidents they responded to in Kelowna on Sunday, Nov. 12. only eight were related to fireworks.

Castanet reached out to the Kelowna Fire Department to determine how many fireworks permits were issued for Diwali but we did not receive a response.

Sandhu says there is simply too much liability involved in fireworks displays and he would support an event on private property with specific timelines, but he says the temple is not interested in being the host.

"We're going to talk to bylaw next year and try to make sure it doesn't happen. We don't mind if you go get a permit go to the park or something and have certain hours. It's not good it's unhealthy, and it's unsafe," said Sandhu of the neighbourhood fireworks displays.

Aside from her fried nerves and damaged vehicle, Saebels says she has no hard feelings towards anyone, "we've had food there (Okanagan Sikh Gurdwara) at different events and they've always been super kind. But like wow, I've lived here for 23 years, this was utter chaos."

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