Coroner to re-open investigation into Arlene Westervelt's death

·2 min read
The B.C. Coroners Service is re-opening its investigation into the death of Arlene Westervelt. (Debbie Hennig/Facebook - image credit)
The B.C. Coroners Service is re-opening its investigation into the death of Arlene Westervelt. (Debbie Hennig/Facebook - image credit)

The B.C. Coroners Service is taking a second look into the case of a woman who died on Okanagan Lake six years ago.

Chief Coroner Lisa Lapointe has re-opened the investigation into Arlene Westervelt's death. Westervelt died in June 2016 during a day of canoeing and picnicking along the shores of Okanagan Lake with her husband.

"The Coroners Act permits the chief coroner to re-open an investigation if new evidence arises or if the chief coroner considers it would be in the public interest," the office said Thursday.

"In this case, the chief coroner has determined that it is in the public interest for another coroner to undertake a new investigation to include any new or additional information that may assist the public's understanding of the circumstances of Arlene Westervelt's death."

Police first thought her death was an accident on the water but later charged her husband, Lambertus "Bert" Westervelt, with second degree murder in 2019.

He maintained his innocence. In 2020, the charges were stayed.

Arlene Westervelt's sister, Debbie Hennig believes justice has not been done.

She said in a phone interview Thursday she has no faith the coroner's service will provide the answers they seek.

"It needs to be taken outside of the province for an independent review. That is my hope. That's what we've been asking for," Hennig said.

"We need an objective, transparent review done by an expert forensic pathologist who could illuminate any discrepancies or omissions, not an internal review behind closed doors."

The coroner's office said its investigations are independent, impartial and objective.

In an email, it explained their investigations are focused on the facts of death, including by what means a death occurred. However, they have no authority to assign blame or determine fault.

Once the investigation ends, the coroner said a report will be issued.

Our goal is to create a safe and engaging place for users to connect over interests and passions. In order to improve our community experience, we are temporarily suspending article commenting