Keremeos man convicted of causing fatal crash

Victim's father hopes the case will help bring about tougher sentencing for impaired driving

Carl Lentz laid flowers and photos of his dead son at Wright’s Beach campground at the entrance to Penticton last week.

He reminisced on better times with his son, who was killed last July by a Keremeos man driving with a blood-alcohol level two times the legal limit. Lentz came face to face with the driver, 72-year-old Frank Tamok, at the Penticton provincial courthouse last Tuesday.

“He just looks like a monster to me,” said Lentz outside the courthouse after Tamok was found guilty on Friday for criminal negligence causing death, criminal negligence causing bodily harm and failure to stop at the scene of an accident.

It was a typical hot and busy Canada Day long weekend in Penticton last July when Bradley Lentz and his wife were returning to Wright’s Beach campground where they had been on vacation with family. Lentz and his wife had moved to Vancouver one month earlier from Australia, where they had lived for about three years. This was their first chance to reconnect with the Lentz family who travelled from Alberta to see them.

Judge Wilfred Klinger said in his decision following a four-day trial that it comes as no shock the long weekend in Penticton has a spotted history from riots, fatal traffic accidents and other tragic incidents. “July 3, 2011 was unfortunately no exception,” said Klinger.

The judge said evidence showed Tamok had a “marked and substantiated departure of a reasonable driver.” During the trial, witnesses testified that a white Kia driven by Tamok came to an abrupt stop after driving erratically southbound on the Channel Parkway. This caused one woman to rear-end him.

Tamok accelerated away from the accident, rear-ending a Jeep waiting to turn right onto Skaha Lake Road at a red light. The driver of the Jeep, who happened to be an RCMP officer on vacation in Penticton, said he could feel the white Kia accelerating and was eventually pushed around the turn from the force. Tamok’s Kia became disengaged with the Jeep and it slingshot across the highway towards oncoming traffic, striking a truck and then glancing off the vehicle behind it. Tamok then sped westbound on Skaha Lake Road, witnesses testified they saw the white Kia weaving in and out of oncoming traffic.

Tamok passed through the intersection at Airport Road, at speeds reaching 100 km/h according to witness accounts, before he rammed into the back of a white GMC Jimmy heading west. The force of that launched the Jimmy into the air and it came crashing down on the front end of eastbound truck before coming to rest upside down on the shoulder of the road. Bradley Lentz had been a passenger in the Jimmy, his wife Nancy Lentz was driving. He was killed instantly in the collision. His wife survived, as did the couple in the truck, but not without injuries and emotional trauma. This has extended to friends and family of Bradley.

“It is just hour by hour, day by day,” said Carl of how life has been since his son died.

A date for Tamok’s sentencing has been scheduled for June 23, Carl plans to be there.

“Maybe justice will be done and hopefully they will use this with other cases to make stronger sentencing because this drinking and driving has gotten so out of hand. The message has just not got across.”