Firefighters battle a blaze at the Salmon Point Pub south of Campbell River March 1. Photo courtesy Bruce Green

2019 Comox Valley Year In Review: March

Murderer found guilty; environmentalist dies in plane crash

  • Dec. 27, 2019 6:00 a.m.

The month of March started on a solemn note for fans of the Salmon Point Pub. The popular establishment burned to the ground in an early-morning fire.

Bruce Green, chief of Oyster River Volunteer Fire Rescue, said firefighters responded to an alarm from the pub at about 4:45 a.m. March 1. The structure was fully involved in the blaze by the time firefighters arrived.

The response involved about 25 firefighters, with two trucks from the Campbell River Fire Department and four from Oyster River, Green said. There were no injuries. The building was a complete write-off.

Jail time for driver

Serina Laliberte, the woman involved in a 2016 collision that killed one and injured two others, was sentenced to jail time.

On July 26, 2016, a Nissan Pathfinder travelling north on Cliffe Avenue struck a pedestrian, proceeded to hit two other vehicles near the 26th Street intersection and then crashed into two cars parked in a nearby lot. The pedestrian died at the scene while the drivers of the two vehicles suffered non-life threatening injuries.

Laliberte was found guilty of three of nine charges relating to the incident. She was found guilty of having a blood-alcohol content over 0.08 mg/100 ml of blood causing an accident resulting in death, and two counts of causing an accident resulting in bodily harm.

She was given three sentences, each to be served concurrently for a total of 25 months in prison.

Courtenay victim in plane crash

Micah Messent of Courtenay was among the victims of the Ethiopian Airlines crash in March that killed all 157 people on board.

By all accounts, Micah Messent was an outgoing, positive person who was driven to achieve his goals. Photo courtesy of Amber Tansky

Messent had been selected to join a delegation from the United Nations Association in Canada to the fourth session of the UN Environment Assembly in Nairobi, Kenya. The plane crashed shortly after takeoff from Addis Ababa, the Ethiopian capital.

Former BMX champ dies

Aidan Webber, a national champion BMX athlete who used to ride out of the Coal Hills BMX Club in Cumberland, died in a workplace accident at a fish farm off the north end of the Island.

Webber won the junior men’s national championship at Cycling Canada’s BMX national championships in Drummondville, Que. in 2018. In 2017, he was awarded the Steve Smith Memorial Award for achievement in extreme sports after winning the national championship in 2016.

Webber raced around the world, representing Canada at world championships in Colombia, placing fifth in the U.S. national series and training in France.

Guilty, guilty

Michael Simard, the man accused of two counts of murder from an incident stemming from 2016, was found guilty of both counts at B.C. Supreme Court in Courtenay.

Simard broke into the home of Leanne Larocque and Gord Turner on Oct. 5, 2016. He fatally shot the couple, called 911, then shot himself before police arrived.

BUSINESS

Sprouts in space

Eat More Sprouts went into orbit, literally, this past summer.

When the Student Spaceflight Experiments Program (SSEP) Mission 13 to the International Space Station (ISS) launched, an experiment designed by five École Ballenas (Parksville) students was aboard.

The five Ballenas School students behind the experiment: Investigating the Growth Patterns of Alfalfa (Medicago sativa) Sprouts in Microgravity: a Potential Nourishment for Future Manned Spaceflight.

The experiment is titled Investigating the Growth Patterns of Alfalfa (Medicago sativa) Sprouts in Microgravity: a Potential Nourishment for Future Manned Spaceflight. The sprouts that went to space were from Eat More Sprouts in Courtenay.

READ: Eat More Sprouts heading into orbit

SPORTS

Wirth a pro

Nolan Wirth of Comox signed a professional contract with Pacific FC, a Victoria-based soccer team that will compete in the newly-formed Canadian Premier League.

Wirth joins Pacific FC

Vipers strike for SO gold

The Comox Valley Vipers won the 2019 Special Olympics BC Winter Games floor hockey tournament in Vernon, going undefeated throughout the entire cycle.

The Comox Valley Vipers went undefeated at the 2019 Special Olympics BC Winter Games floor hockey tournament in Vernon. Photo via Flickr

They went undefeated in the regional tournament, to represent the Island in Vernon, then swept the provincial tournament, beating Abbotsford 7-1 in the gold medal game.

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The Salmon Point Restaurant and Pub lies smouldering while firefighters conduct clean up operations. The pub caught fire sometime before 5 a.m. March 1. Photo by Curtis Papove

Goalkeeper Nolan Wirth. (Pacific FC photo)

Gov. Gen. Julie Payette wrapped up her tour of the West Coast at 19 Wing Comox. Photo by Erin Haluschak

Nanaimo BMX rider Aidan Webber in action. Webber died in a workplace accident in 2019. (Lee Cejalvo Photography)

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