Drunk-driving charge still possible in fatal boat crash, lawyer says

August 2010 News DARAH HANSEN - www.vancouversun.com

The man behind the wheel of a speedboat involved in a fatal crash on Shuswap Lake could still face a drunk-driving charge, even though no blood or breath samples were taken from him following the incident.

"In the Criminal Code there are a couple of ways to prosecute this," said Mark Jette, a Vancouver defence lawyer who is not involved in the case.

"You certainly can't proceed with a charge alleging he was over the legal limit, so all you're left with is the alternative, which is impaired care and control," Jette said.

Leon Reinbrecht, a resident of Celista, a small town northeast of Kamloops, was allegedly driving the 5.5-metre Campion ski boat that ran into the back of a houseboat on Shuswap Lake on July 3.

The houseboat operator, 53-year-old Ken Brown, was killed and at least eight others injured in the crash. Reinbrecht had not been charged with any offences as of Friday, and the police investigation into the crash continued.

Reinbrecht was taken by ambulance to Royal Inland Hospital in Kamloops where he was treated for unspecified injuries and released.

A warrant obtained by police in support of their investigation alleges Reinbrecht reeked of alcohol after the crash and that 27 empty beer and cooler cans were found inside the boat.

Police obtained the warrant to request blood samples they thought were taken from Reinbrecht by hospital staff. They later learned that no such samples existed.

A regional health official said Royal Inland staff did nothing wrong.

"We've reviewed the chart and I'm comfortable that our staff have followed the appropriate process," said Margaret Brown, health service administrator with the Interior Health Authority.

Brown said hospital staff are required to follow strict policy with regard to blood collection. Samples can be taken if they are deemed "medically necessary" by an attending physician.

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