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Penticton court hears of terrifying crash

Bradley Lentz was killed in a crash on Skaha Lake Road in Penticton last July. - Photo submitted
Bradley Lentz was killed in a crash on Skaha Lake Road in Penticton last July.
— image credit: Photo submitted

"Absolute chaos" is what an RCMP officer recalled of the scene of an accident last summer in Penticton where one man was killed.

The four-day trial of Frank Tamok began on Monday at the Penticton provincial courthouse. The Keremeos man is charged with criminal negligence causing death, impaired driving causing death, criminal negligence causing bodily harm, impaired driving causing bodily harm, causing an accident that resulted in a death and failure to stop at the scene of an accident. The man, who is hard of hearing, sat in court in orange prison clothes having to put on headphones to amplify voices.

It was on July 3, 2011 that the white Kia alleged to be driven by Tamok, collided with at least eight vehicles starting at the Channel Parkway and ending just past Airport Road. One of which carried 32-year-old Bradley Lentz of Devon, Alta., who was killed instantly.

Kristy Pearce was driving southbound on the Channel Parkway that day when she noticed a white car "driving erratically." Pearce explained it was about 100 yards away from the intersection at Skaha Lake Road when the white vehicle in front of her stopped dead for no reason, causing her to roll into it. She told the court the Kia then accelerated away rear-ending a Jeep and pushing it around the corner onto Skaha Lake Road until it became free.

"There is no other word to describe it other than it slingshot across to oncoming traffic and connected with a Dodge. When I say connected, I mean it literally lifted it off the ground," said Pearce.

The driver of the truck had been eastbound on Skaha Lake Road waiting for the left hand turn signal. The driver of the truck Dustin Morris said the impact knocked his truck a good distance, almost into the eastbound second turning lane to his right. Morris said it then hit the front end of the car behind him before carrying on westbound on Skaha Lake Road. The impact caused $12,500 of damage to the truck, which included the drive shaft that had been pulled off and leaf springs that were snapped.

Sara Amos testified about her frightening experience that day as a passenger in a vehicle driving eastbound on the four-lane Skaha Lake Road near Wrights Beach campground. Amos told the court how she braced herself as she saw the white car pull in front of them into the oncoming traffic.

"I was terrified I thought we were going to get hit head on," said Amos explaining that the white vehicle was excessively speeding and jerking left and right as it came straight at the car she was in. "It wasn't moving. It was going to hit us straight on unless we got out of the way."

Amos said a break in the lane of cars to the right of them appeared and her driver quickly pulled into it, just a half car length more and they would have collided.

The loud sound she described that came afterwards from behind was the white car hitting more vehicles that caused the GMC Jimmy Lentz was in to launch and eventually land near a fence upside down on the south side of Skaha Lake Road.

His father, Carl Lentz sat in court on Monday listening to the proceedings. Carl told the Penticton Western News his son was very athletic, had a extreme talent for photography and was generous. The father said Bradley made friends wherever he went. The ones he left behind in Australia held a memorial for him in South Bondi after his death, stating that it was one of his favourite spots. He said Bradley was the type of man that would lend his shirt off his back to a stranger.

"That's just the type of guy he was. He touched so many hearts and was always helping everybody," said Carl.

Brad and his wife had returned from Australia, where they lived for about three years, just a month before the accident that claimed his life. The couple had moved to Vancouver for work had come to Penticton to visit family staying at Wright's Beach campground. Carl said his son had got into the vehicle that day to get some items from town. Instead, Bradley's sister and her husband heard the accident unfold from where they were staying at the campground and rushed over to the scene, one of the first to assist.

Since Bradley's death, the Lentz family has started the B-Rad Foundation. Carl said they have set a goal of raising $50,000 by February. The money will be used for a bursary or scholarship for people or causes who embraced the same spirit as Brad, especially those interested in photography. Bradley also had a blog where he posted amazing photos of action sports and some of his thoughts about life.

"Make sure no matter where you are or where you go, you stop and enjoy experience. Smile at someone just because you can, look at the tree you walk past everyday and appreciate it, stop and take the photo you have been thinking about and enjoy life because the memories you create today are the ones you will remember tomorrow," wrote Brad on a blog post just eight months before his death.

Information on the foundation can be found on Facebook at www.Facebook.com/B-Rad-Foundation, including an event being held in Devon on June 23 called Bike for B-Rad.

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