‘Serious assault’ investigated – BC News –

Marine scientists are amazed by the way a salmon shark behaves during recent expedition.

Jessica Kerr / Vancouver Courier – Jul 28, 2019 / 8:00 pm | Story: 262322

Ocean conservation got an artistic touch last week with the installation of an unusual artificial reef in the waters of Howe Sound.

The reef, installed by Ocean Wise Research July 25, is made up of sculptures designed by art students at Kwantlen Polytechnic University and the University of B.C. The sculptures, which are made out of clay and concrete, are meant to provide habitat for threatened rockfish. Howe Sound contains 11 designated rockfish conservation areas and that are home to 14 rockfish species.

There are nine sculptures in total. Four were delivered on July 25 by barge to Porteau Cove provincial park and then lowered into place with the help of commercial divers. The pieces were designed to attract rockfish, whose population decreased dramatically before the introduction of catch limits and management actions in 1986, and has not yet rebounded.  

“Rockfish are homebodies,” said Amanda Weltman, a field research and data assistant, who took on the project two years ago when she started working with Howe Sound Research and Conservation. “We want to see whether this artificial habitat will attract rockfish and encourage them to stay in the area.

“Despite the fact that some species are threatened, rockfish are often illegally fished. Since they mature late, we’d like to see whether providing them with habitat specifically designed for them in a place where fishing is banned allows them to live longer, achieve maturity and reproduce in greater numbers.”

Weltman said that taking an artistic approach rather than simply installing cinder blocks on the ocean floor was a way trying to engage the public in the subject of rockfish conservation.

 “We hope that over the months and years, these sculptures will increase biodiversity,” she said.

The first four sculptures were installed in a spot that’s popular with scuba divers and already features artificial reefs. In addition to providing rockfish habitat, they are also meant to encourage citizen science.

Divers are invited to explore the waters around the sculptures and report their observations on numbers, types and behaviours of fish online to researchers.

The remaining five sculptures will be submerged at a later date in waters off private land that won’t be accessible to recreational divers.

– Jul 28, 2019 / 7:46 pm | Story: 262321

RCMP in Surrey are appealing to the public for information about a “serious assault” with a weapon. 

CTV News reports the incident occurred just before midnight Friday in the 8600 block of 140 Street. Officers attended the scene for a report of a hurt man that had been attacked with a weapon. 

A 19-year-old Vancouver man was taken to hospital with serious injuries. Police were observed at the scene placing evidence markers along a trail of blood on the pavement. 

RCMP say the suspect fled in a black BMW four-door sedan. A “person of interest” has been identified.

with files from CTV Vancouver 

Mark Nielsen / Prince George Citizen – Jul 28, 2019 / 4:01 pm | Story: 262313

A Parole Board of Canada panel has granted day parole to a Northern B.C. man serving an 11-year sentence for the manslaughter death of his common-law spouse, but only so he can attend an addictions treatment program.

Under the terms the panel issued in a July 9 decision, Garrett Steven George, 30, must return to a halfway house in the community where the program is being delivered each night.

George was sentenced in November 16, 2016 for death of Destiny Rae Tom, 21. The badly-beaten body of the mother of a then three-year-old girl was found outside a home on the Nadleh reserve outside Fraser Lake during the early morning of March 13, 2013.

George had been kicked out of a party at a friend’s house but kept coming back and demanded Tom leave with him. She finally relented and left reluctantly, the court was told during a sentencing hearing.

George initially denied responsibility and later tried to pin the death on the two people who found Tom’s body. But he eventually pleaded guilty to a count of manslaughter.

A history of abuse of Tom at George’s hands was a theme during the sentencing hearing.

In reaching their decision, panel members found George to be “highly overconfident” and made note of poor behaviour including an outburst a week before the hearing when he became angry over the type of food he was being served.

“You did not display a deep knowledge of your risk factors or strategies to reduce them in the community,” panel members said in the decision. “You have demonstrated angry and defensive behaviours very recently and do not appear to understand the responsibility you own for these issues. You appear to deflect responsibility on others and the system.”

George’s bid for full parole was denied as was a request to be transferred to a work camp upon completing the work program.

“Rather, the Board finds that you ought to take the time to demonstrate change, better anger management and communication skills, and gain insight in the treatment portion of your plan,” panel members said. “You will return to the institution following that program and prior to any future decisions being made in your case.”

Less credit for time served prior to sentencing, George had a further eight years and four months left to serve upon sentencing in 2016. His sentence ends in late March 2025.

The Canadian Press – Jul 28, 2019 / 3:04 pm | Story: 262306

Starting Monday, drivers in B.C. will see new automated speed enforcement cameras rolled out at certain intersections across the province.

The first five new cameras will be activated Monday, and Colin Hynes, a spokesperson for the Ministry of Public Safety, says the remaining 30 will be installed in a phased approach wrapping up next spring.

The new cameras will ticket drivers entering these intersections well over the posted speed limit on a red, yellow or green light.

The provincial government announced the locations of 35 intersections that would receive new cameras in May, after analysing speed and crash data at 140 intersections currently equipped with red-light cameras.

According to the Minstry of Public Safety, around 60 per cent of crashes on B.C. roads are at intersections, and the new cameras will be strategically placed at high-risk intersections best suited to ticketing speeding drivers and changing their behaviours.

Seven of the 35 intersections are in Surrey and 12 are in Vancouver, followed by three in Burnaby. Two are coming to Kelowna; Harvey Avenue at Cooper Road and Highway 97 at Banks Road.

Roxanne Egan-Elliott / Times Colonist – Jul 28, 2019 / 3:04 pm | Story: 262305

Tributes are pouring in online to remember a man believed to be the pilot of the float plane that crashed on a remote B.C. island.

The chartered flight was on its way to Calvert Island, a popular recreational spot, when it crashed around 11 a.m. Saturday on Addenbroke Island.

Four of the nine people on board died in the crash. Two survivors in critical condition were airlifted to Vancouver for treatment. The other three survivors, in serious but stable condition, were taken to a local hospital.

Although officials have not released the victim’s names, one of the deceased has been identified in Facebook posts as pilot Al McBain.

“RIP my friend. I’ll always remember your patience with me in the air and the great banter about anything and everything,” one friend wrote.

“You died doing what you loved. Your skills certainly saved the five survivors. You will be missed greatly.”

Another friend wrote: “He lived life to the fullest. Al, you will be missed.”

Investigators from Canada’s Transportation Safety Board, which investigates incidents involving air, marine, rail and pipelines transportation to improve safety, were expected to arrive at the crash site Sunday morning.

They will investigate the site and collect components of the aircraft that will be sent to the safety board’s engineering lab in Ottawa. The investigation will also look into the maintenance history of the aircraft, the pilot’s experience and weather conditions at the time of crash. There were reports of heavy rain around the time the plane came down.

The B.C. Ferries vessel Northern Sea Wolf and a coast guard helicopter responded to the crash early Friday afternoon, followed by a Cormorant helicopter and a Buffalo aircraft from 19 Wing Comox. Two coast guard vessels also responded, along with RCMP from Bella Bella, which is about three-and-a-half hours by boat from Addenbroke Island.

The Northern Sea Wolf was in the area of the crash because its route from Port Hardy to Prince Rupert passes the remote island.

The plane was operated by Richmond-based Seair Seaplanes. The company suspended all flights on Friday following the crash. After a safety inspection of all aircraft Saturday morning, Seair resumed regularly scheduled flights.

Kirsten Clarke / Richmond News – Jul 28, 2019 / 2:57 pm | Story: 262303

Hundreds of travellers are stuck in line at YVR today after a national outage of the airport’s customs systems.

Both the primary inspection kiosks, run by the Canadian Border Services Agency (CBSA) and NEXUS systems are down across Canada, according to YVR. 

The airport says that staff are helping arriving guests fill out manual forms and stay hydrated.

One traveller reported over Twitter that he had been waiting in line for over 90 minutes, while another called the lineups “chaos,” with hundreds of people stuck waiting. 

Toronto Pearson Airport and Calgary International Airport are also reporting delays due to the computer-system failure, affecting international arrivals.

– Jul 28, 2019 / 2:47 pm | Story: 262300

Photo: RCMP

Chase RCMP is requesting the public’s assistance in locating a missing resident.

Travis Allen Sauls was last seen in Chase on July 14.

Sauls is described as a First Nation male, 33 years old, 5 ft. 7 in. tall, 186 lbs. with brown hair and brown eyes.

Anyone with information on the whereabouts of Sauls is urged to contact the Chase RCMP Detachment at (250) 679-3221, or Crimestoppers at 1-800-222-8477 (TIPS).

The Canadian Press – Jul 28, 2019 / 2:30 pm | Story: 262299

The father of a British Columbia murder suspect has written a book that sheds new light on his mental health, explains harassment convictions involving his ex-wife and provides greater insight into the possible impacts the events had on his fugitive son.

Alan Schmegelsky, the father of 18-year-old Bryer Schmegelsky, sent a book to reporters this week titled “Red Flagged,” which he says is a novelization of actual events and fictionalizes some incidents.

Bryer Schmegelsky is a suspect in three murders in northern B.C. along with his friend, 19-year-old Kam McLeod, and RCMP are continuing to search a boggy, remote area in Manitoba where they were last seen.

The 132-page book, which Alan Schmegelsky said he planned to self-publish this week but now does not intend to publish for sale, reveals new details of his troubled life and his numerous encounters with police and courts.

He said he sent the book to reporters to highlight how a “broken system” has shaped him and his son.

“My son and I have been treated like footballs. It’s time for some truth,” he said.

He writes that he was arrested by Victoria police on Aug. 4, 2008, his son Bryer’s eighth birthday, three years after his acrimonious split with the boy’s mother. In a rambling, profanity-laden recollection, he explains how he was sentenced to probation because he had no criminal history at the time.

Court records show he was charged with criminal harassment in December 2008. He was found guilty of the lesser offence of disobeying a court order.

He returned to court numerous times over the next decade.

A new criminal harassment charge was filed in 2012 and a number of breach of probation charges were added in 2014. He was later found guilty of the criminal harassment charge and some probation charges.

In 2016, he was found guilty of two additional criminal harassment charges, and in January 2018, he was found guilty of another criminal harassment charge and two breach of probation charges.

It’s unclear whether his ex-wife was the target of the harassment in each case, but Schmegelsky said in an interview that at least some of the charges were filed because the boy’s mother feared he would murder her, saying he was schizophrenic and was not taking his medication. He denies these allegations.

Schmegelsky writes in the book that a forensic psychologist diagnosed him as “delusional,” a conclusion he disagreed with. His lawyer described him as “autistic” at one point, he writes, and he was ordered to attend a crisis counselling centre but couldn’t afford to attend for very long as it wasn’t a government program.

He said his son never attended any of his court hearings.

The boy’s mother did not immediately respond to a request for comment. There was no answer at her door in Port Alberni, B.C., earlier this week and she has not returned phone calls to her home.

RCMP and Victoria police said they could not immediately provide additional context to the court records. B.C.’s Prosecution Service did not immediately respond to a request for comment.

Schmegelsky says he does not currently have a permanent residence and has been homeless for about two years, staying primarily in Victoria.

He says in the book that the birth of his son on Aug. 4, 2000, was “an experience of a lifetime — the greatest.” He says the tiny infant became “embedded” in his heart in less than a second.

“My life had just taken on a whole new perspective. I would do anything to protect him. Life was good.”

He says in the book that his then-wife left him in 2005, taking their young son with her to start a new life in Port Alberni. Schmegelsky describes losing his son as “the worst heartbreak I ever experienced.”

He has said that he did not see his son between the ages of eight and 16, at which age his son briefly lived with him in Victoria and they worked in construction together for a summer. He showed The Canadian Press recent photos and videos of his son on his phone.

Herb Loomba, the owner of the Redford Motel in Port Alberni, confirmed that the elder Schmegelsky stayed there about once a month in recent years to visit his son and he last saw them together on the young man’s graduation.

Alan Schmegelsky traces his pain back to the death of his father. He writes that his father received a tainted blood transfusion in 1985 and died of AIDS in 1990, but that his family was denied compensation because they filed the claim too late. The Canadian Press has seen a 2010 letter sent from his MP to the justice minister at the time asking why he has not been properly compensated.

The manhunt for the two homicide suspects continued in Gillam, Man., this weekend as it’s been nearly a week since the last confirmed sighting of the pair.

Police, aided by tracking dogs and drones, have been going door to door, checking every residence and abandoned building in and around Gillam as townsfolk maintain their own stressful vigil for the fugitives.

The aerial search effort got a boost Saturday with the arrival of a Canadian Air Force CC-130H Hercules aircraft equipped with high tech thermal detection gear.

In addition, the Assembly of Manitoba Chiefs said that it had requested help from the Bear Clan Patrol, an Indigenous-led neighbourhood watch group, and was co-ordinating teams to fly to First Nations communities including Fox Lake Cree Nation, York Factory First Nation, and War Lake First Nation.

Schmegelsky and McLeod are charged with second-degree murder in the death of University of B.C. lecturer Leonard Dyck and are also suspects in the fatal shootings of Australian Lucas Fowler and his American girlfriend Chynna Deese.

Roxanne Egan-Elliott / Times Colonist – Jul 28, 2019 / 6:54 am | Story: 262275

Canada’s Transportation Safety Board is set to begin an investigation today to determine what caused a float plane to crash on an uninhabited B.C. island, killing four of the nine people aboard.

Three investigators from the safety board’s Richmond office are expected to arrive at the crash site on Addenbroke Island, about 100 kilometres north of Port Hardy, this morning, said TSB spokesperson Chris Krepski.

The Cessna 208 Caravan carrying one pilot and eight passengers crashed about 11 a.m. Friday.

Four people were confirmed dead. Two people in critical condition were airlifted to Vancouver, while three people in serious but stable condition were transported to a local hospital for treatment. The single-engine aircraft, with capacity for 14 people, was heading to Calvert Island, a popular recreational site that’s home to the Hakai Land and Sea fishing lodge and a Hakai Institute coastal research station. The charter flight was not bound for either destination.

Investigators will examine and photograph the site and the aircraft wreckage. They’ll also identify components of the aircraft to undergo further analysis at the safety board’s engineering lab in Ottawa.

Krepski couldn’t say how long the on-site investigation would take. “Sometimes they wrap up in a day. Sometimes it takes a few days. It depends on the wreckage. It depends on the access to the site and the complexities that we find when we’re there,” he said.

In addition to examining the site, investigators will gather information from the plane’s operator, Seair Seaplanes, about the aircraft’s maintenance history and the pilot’s experience. They’ll also look at the weather at the time and radar and communication data from air traffic control.

Weather data from the Hakai Institute showed intense rain between 10:30 a.m. and 11:30 a.m. Friday, around the time of the crash.

– Jul 28, 2019 / 6:13 am | Story: 262222

A B.C. helicopter flight school has posted an epic video that shows off some awesome B.C. scenery while pilots travel to the Okanagan to blow rain off cherry orchards.

Mischa Gelb of the Abbotsford company posted the video to YouTube on Wednesday.

The 20-minute video shows he and another pilot departing from the Fraser Valley, following the Coquihalla and flying up Okanagan Lake to land at the Vernon Airport.

Along the way, you’ll see some beautiful landscapes and all kinds of weather.

Taking off from Vernon, the crew demonstrates how pilots hover low over cherry orchards to blow rain water off the fruit.

Heavy and frequent rains earlier this month saw many orchardists hiring choppers. If left on the fruit, the water can split the cherries when it heats up under the sun.

The wet start to the season is said to have impacted as much as 40 per cent of the Okanagan’s cherry crop.

The video shows the pilot hovering low as the cherry trees sway in the rotors’ downwash.

On their flight back, the crew encounter some unpleasant weather.

“Believe it or not, people actually will dry cherries by using a helicopter. What happens is when it rains the water accumulates on the top of the cherry. If it sits there when the sun comes out, the water will act as a magnifying glass and split the cherry open,” says Gelb.

“Once that happens nobody wants to buy it anymore and their crops get ruined. So they use helicopters to hover over the cherry trees and blow the water off to save their crops.”

– Jul 27, 2019 / 2:52 pm | Story: 262258

One of Vancouver’s most popular beaches is closed to swimming due to high E. coli levels, the third local-area beach currently shut for this reason.

On Saturday, the Vancouver Park Board announced the closure. Trout Lake has been closed since July 17 and Bowen Island’s Snug Cove has been closed since June 27, CTV reports

Ambleside Beach in North Vancouver and Sunset Beach in Vancouver were also closed due to E. coli earlier this month, but have since reopened. 

The Kits Beach closure to swimming comes at a time of year when hundreds of thousands of people expected in the area to watch the first night of the 2019 Honda Celebration of Light. 

Viewers will still be able to watch the show from the beach, but won’t be allowed to take a dip. 

The high levels of E. coli increase a swimmer’s chance of contracting gastrointestinal illness or skin and eye infections. 

-with files from CTV Vancouver

The Canadian Press – Jul 27, 2019 / 2:22 pm | Story: 262256

The Transportation Safety Board of Canada is sending a team of investigators to the scene of a seaplane accident that killed four people and left five injured on a remote, uninhabited island in British Columbia.

The TSB says investigators will gather information and assess the crash, which took place on Addenbroke Island around 100 kilometres off the northern tip of Vancouver Island on Friday.

Lt. Chelsea Dubeau with the Joint Rescue Co-ordination Centre in Victoria says they received word at around 11 a.m. on Friday that a Cessna 208 float plane operated by Seair Seaplanes had crashed.

The centre says the chartered plane had nine people aboard and was headed to neighbouring Calvert Island, the location of the Hakai Land and Sea fishing lodge and a Hakai Institute research station.

Hakai Institute founder Eric Peterson says the flight was not bound for the research station and no one affiliated with the institute was on the plane.

According to weather data from Hakai’s Calvert Island station, there was intense rain between 10:30 and 11:30 a.m. on Friday, around the time the crash was reported.

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