A Lower Mainland resident who witnessed a fatal boat collision in the Okanagan this past weekend described it as surreal.
Joe Lovas says he was sitting on the patio of property he owns in Osoyoos on Saturday, watching the nearby waters of Osoyoos Lake when the incident took place just after 7 p.m. The collision between two boats resulted in the deaths of two men.
Osoyoos RCMP says the bodies of a 35-year-old man from Kamloops and a 36-year-old man of Maple Ridge were recovered from the lake on Sunday.
Lovas says he saw one boat, a fishing boat, with three people head out onto the lake.
“They got about a couple hundred feet from shore when they opened up the throttle and got going,” said Lovas, whose surveillance video captured the incident. “I don’t know why I kept watching, but I did.”
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Lovas said another speedboat came into the scene, from his right-hand side, “And he was booking it hard.”
“I couldn’t believe what I saw,” Lovas continued. “I thought they were going to miss. I was saying, ‘Who’s gonna move?’ And they didn’t. And they just plowed right into each other.
“I could hear the impact fairly loudly on my deck.”
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The collision resulted in shrapnel everywhere, he said.
Immediately after the collision, Lovas said he phoned 911, with the operator telling him he was approximately the fifth caller regarding the incident.
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Another witness told Global News nearly the same thing.
“The three boys went into the boat and they were just going across the lake peacefully and all of a sudden … a red boat came from Haynes Point — like, across — it came really fast and it hit the top part of the grey boat and it went flying, and it went down,” said Carmen Martins.
“It was just like in the movies, oh my God, it was so horrific.”
Osoyoos police say they are still investigating the incident.
The two boats sunk after the collision, but were raised on Monday. Police marine analysts are in Osoyoos, examining both vessels and are continuing to gather information.
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In related news, Osoyoos RCMP Sgt. Jason Bayda said boating safety is of utmost importance when heading out on local waterways.
“Know your area, know the shallow spots,” said Bayda. “Always watch for your surroundings; you never know how busy it’s going to be out there.
“And keep your head on a swivel. And if you do have passengers, ask them to do the same, to help you watch out and be that second set of eyes, just in case you don’t see something.”
Bayda also said a lifejacket or personal flotation device (PFD) should always be donned when stepping onto watercraft.
“You should always be wearing your PFDs,” said Bayda. “There’s a lot of people who can swim and feel they don’t need it, or they can put it on in a time of need.
“But when there’s a collision, you often don’t have time to put one on, and it’s too late. And if you’re injured or rendered unconscious because of the collision, then it doesn’t matter how good of a swimmer you are, you don’t have much help without a PFD.”