The B.C. Coroners Service has reopened the investigation into the death of Arlene Westervelt.
The Coroners Act permits the chief coroner to reopen an investigation if new evidence arises or if it is considered to be in the public interest. In this case, the chief coroner determined it is in the public interest for another coroner to investigate.
Westervelt drowned in Okanagan Lake June 2016 while canoeing with her husband Bert Westervelt.
Her death was ruled an accidental drowning, but Westervelt’s family alleges that Bert was responsible for her death.
Bert was charged with second-degree murder in April 2019, but the charges were stayed and eventually expired in July 2021.
B.C. Prosecution Service said at the time the expiration of the stayed charges will have no impact on the case of her death.
In an email, the B.C. Coroners Service wrote, “The coroner’s investigation is focused on the facts surrounding the death; specifically, the identity of the deceased, and when, where, how and by what means death occurred. Coroners have no authority to assign blame or determine fault but are focused on establishing facts as supported by evidence.”
Capital News has reached out to the family’s lawyer Anthony Oliver for comment. The story will be updated when more information is available.