Witnesses to a “horrifying” accident in Penticton, alleged to have been caused by a drunk driver, told the court they still are haunted by it.
The accident claimed the life of 32-year-old Bradley Lentz, who was with his wife visiting family on vacation in Penticton. The accused is 72-year-old Keremeos man Frank Tamok, who has been behind bars since being arrested last July.
“I couldn’t get back in a vehicle. I couldn’t sleep for the first week,” said Linda Kenzle, who witnessed the GMC Jimmy carrying Lentz fly through the air and come crashing off their Toyota truck. “I went through a tortuous summer.”
She and her husband, William Kenzle, were driving into Penticton in a Toyota truck pulling a trailer on July 3, 2011, passing by Wright’s Beach Campground on Skaha Lake Road when they were hit. The husband told Judge Wilfred Klinger he heard the sound of metal crunching first.
“The next thing I see is a vehicle rolling through the air at me,” recalled William.
Inside the Jimmy was Lentz and his wife, who was driving. Lentz was killed on impact as their vehicle landed upside down in the right eastbound lane of Skaha Lake Road.
The front end of the Toyota truck that carried the Kenzles was heavily damaged. William was pinned in by the steering wheel but managed to wiggle loose and escape out the passenger door. His wife said she was in extreme pain when she got out of the vehicle and collapsed in a ditch beside the road. Linda said after the accident the pain continued and she could only sleep sitting upright on her couch. The couple both suffer emotional trauma.
Since Tuesday, the court has heard from a number of witnesses about the two accident scenes allegedly caused by Tamok, who was at the wheel of a white Kia. The first being on the Channel Parkway intersection turning westbound onto Skaha Lake Road, where witnesses said they saw a white Kia rear-end and push its way through vehicles before accelerating down the road towards the airport. Jocelyn Gauthier was in the left-hand turning lane on Skaha Lake Road to head north on the Channel Parkway and watched the white Kia hit her fiance’s truck, lifting it off the ground, and then the car behind it before speeding away.
“There were pieces of white car all over the road,” said Gauthier. “I was surprised he could continue to drive because of all the pieces left.”
Tamok’s defence counsel, James Pennington, questioned Donald Nicol, who was rear-ended by the white Kia just after what some called a “dust cloud” occurred at the second accident scene where Lentz was killed. Nicol said he caught the white Kia weaving in and out of traffic in his rearview mirror as he headed westbound on Skaha Lake Road. He also noticed a truck.
“I couldn’t tell if they were chasing each other, or racing each other,” said Nicol, who suspected the cars were driving about 100 km/h.
Next he noticed the white Kia in his peripheral vision heading directly at oncoming traffic in the eastbound lane. It eventually crashed into the rear driver’s side of Nicol’s vehicle.
Dhar Chema was in the truck Nicol had spoke about. Chema testified he saw the first accident at the Channel Parkway intersection occur behind him and reacted by speeding up and honking his horn several times “to tell people to get out of the way” of the swerving white Kia behind him as he headed westbound on Skaha Lake Road. He pulled over after the fatal collision and got out, running back to the scene and instructing approaching cars to slow down.
The trial is scheduled to run until Friday and it is expected Crown counsel Jeff Dyment will be submitting an expert report before closing his case and allowing the defence to call any witnesses.
Tamok 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.