Watercraft clocked at estimated 75 to 80 km/h
A 39-year-old Charlottetown area man who lost control of his Sea-Doo while jumping the wakes of other watercraft at a high rate of speed has been convicted of dangerous driving of a vessel on an inland waterway.
P.E.I. Supreme Court Justice Benjamin Taylor handed down the guilty verdict Monday in the case of James Frederick Wilson.
Wilson was charged following an incident in August of last year in which the Sea-Doo he was driving struck a small dingey carrying two teens. The dingey was making its way to the Charlottetown Yacht Club from Holland Cove at the time of the incident.
Evidence presented during the trial indicated Wilson and a friend had spent part of the day jumping wakes on their Sea-Doos.
Wilson attempted to jump the wake of a powerboat operating close to the dingey but lost control of his Sea-Doo and fell off after it became airborne and then touched back down. The rider-less Sea-Doo continued forward and struck the dingey, sending one of the occupants, a 14-year-old girl, several feet into the air.
The Sea-Doo then came to a stop.
The speed at which Wilson was travelling when he attempted to jump the wake of the powerboat was estimated at between 75 to 80 km/h.
The teen who was knocked out of the dingey was left with a scar on her right hip.
Taylor found that Wilson was a novice when it came to the operation of a Sea-Doo. He said it was Wilson’s intention to go fast enough that day to become airborne when jumping the wake of the powerboat.
But he either did not look, or did not see, others who may have been in the area when he attempted what the Crown described as a thrill-seeking stunt.
The manner in which Wilson operated his Sea-Doo that day amounted to a marked departure from the conduct of a reasonable person in those circumstances, Taylor ruled.
He observed that Wilson did not properly reconnoitre the area, which he should have given the high level of activity on the water that day.
He noted as well that Wilson did not have the consent of the owner of the powerboat to jump his wake.
Taylor referred to Transport Canada rules for safe boating that clearly state operators should never try to jump the wake of other vessels.
“Some of the worst boating incidents happen when speed or distance is misjudged,” Taylor stated, reading from the Transport Canada guide.
Taylor has adjourned the case now to a date in December for sentence.