Speedboat driver found not guilty

Court: Judge rules actions were negligent, but not criminal.

A man who drove a speedboat into Copper Island, a crash which later resulted in the death of a passenger, has been found not guilty of two criminal charges.

In a decision rendered Sept. 5 in BC Supreme Court in Kamloops, Justice Robert Powers found Todd Gordon Kerr, 39 at the time of the collision, not guilty of one count of dangerous operation of a vessel causing death and two counts of dangerous operation of a vessel causing bodily harm.

The crash occurred the night of Aug. 1, 2008. Pattie Lynn McKenna, 24, one of three women and two men onboard the 30-foot Baja Outlaw inboard speed boat, died of injuries suffered in the collision.

The judge ruled that while Kerr was negligent in his operation of the boat, the evidence did not prove beyond a reasonable doubt that he was criminally liable.

He stated that if this was a provincial offence similar to careless driving, he would have been guilty of such an offence.

Although Kerr was negligent by driving too fast in low visibility when he was not aware of the surroundings, the judge said the question he must answer under the law is “whether the dangerous manner of driving was the result of a marked departure from the standard of care which a reasonable person would have exercised in the same circumstances.”

 

Justice Powers concluded that while the case is “certainly close to the line…, given Mr. Kerr’s evidence which was not seriously challenged about the thought process he entered into, and the evidence of Ms. Jankowski about his generally conscientious operation of the vessel, I find that I am left with a reasonable doubt…”