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10 weekends in jail for Kelowna drunk driver who hit woman and kept on going

April 18, 2016 - 8:00 PM

KELOWNA – A 72-year-old Kelowna man will spend the next 10 weekends in jail for running a red light while intoxicated, hitting a pedestrian with his car and leaving the scene.

On the evening of May 1, 2014, Kenneth Kitsch, 72, was only six days out of detox when he combined prescription valium with wine and vodka.

He was driving eastbound on Highway 97 in the HOV lane approaching Ethel Street when he struck a Kelowna woman who was crossing the highway on a green light.

Judge Brad Chapman says the victim was mere steps from reaching the curb when she was hit and thrown six metres into the intersection.

“He didn’t stop and he kept travelling eastbound,” he said in Kelowna Provincial Court today, April 18. “He attempted to turn right but failed to negotiate that right hand turn and basically travelled… across the roadway of Gagnon place and missed the street completely.”

Kitsch pleaded guilty to causing an accident resulting in bodily harm and leaving the scene of an accident but says the combination of valium and alcohol impaired his memory of the event.

Witnesses who saw him hit the victim followed him and saw him driving on the sidewalk and hit some shrubs. He also drove into and broke a stop sign before backing up and continuing southbound on Gagnon Place.

The witnesses were then able to box him in and police were called. He initially refused to cooperate with police and had to be forcibly removed from his vehicle. Officers found an open bottle of vodka in the drivers’ side door and Kitsch’s blood alcohol level was twice the legal limit.

“He thought that if he consumed some white wine he’d be okay,” his lawyer Kelly Christiansen said. “Obviously he should not do that. The result is this horrible incident.”

The victim was taken to hospital with severe road rash all over her body, cuts, scrapes and bruising but her injuries were not life-threatening.

Judge Chapman sentenced him to 30 days in jail to be served on the weekends followed by an 18-month driving ban.

“Everyone is very lucky… that victim did not suffer any more serious injuries,” he said.


To contact a reporter for this story, email Adam Proskiw or call 250-718-0428 or email the editor. You can also submit photos, videos or news tips to the newsroom and be entered to win a monthly prize draw.

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