Fall on Okanagan Rail Trail prompts lawsuit against City of Kelowna

Suing over fall on rail trail

A woman has filed a lawsuit against the City of Kelowna after allegedly tripping and falling while running on a closed section the Okanagan Rail Trail last year.

A notice of claim was filed at the Kelowna registry on March 21 by Amy Kerpel.

In the claim, she alleges that at approximately 7 p.m. on Oct. 17, 2022, she was running down Beaver Lake Road and turned south onto the rail trail just before the intersection of Bottom Wood Lake Road and Beaver Lake Road.

Approximately 25 metres down the trail, Kerpel says she hit a large horseshoe-shaped piece of metal that was sticking out of the ground on the right side of the path with her right toe and fell first onto her left knee, then onto her left hand. She says her fingers were bent awkwardly when her left shoulder then hit the ground.

She alleges that the object was extremely difficult to see because it blended into the path.

Kerpel claims she sustained fractures to two fingers on her left hand, as well as bruises and cuts to her left knee and shoulder. She says she spent 11 days in a full hand cast and is still dealing with pain and stiffness.

“This incident has greatly impacted my life. As a single person who lives alone, I had to rely on friends, family and mostly my elderly parents to help with daily every day basic tasks such as laundry, food prep, personal hygiene and various house duties such as bringing in wood for my only heat source and help with the wood stove as well,” says Kerpel in her notice of claim.

She says she was unable to properly exercise and weight train for 15 weeks and has not been able to run since the incident due to a fear of falling.

The woman is seeking damages of more than $56,000. The small claims court where the lawsuit is filed, however, has a claim limit of $35,000.

The area where Kerpel says she fell is along a 6.4 kilometre closed section of the trail from Old Vernon Road to 500 metres north of Beaver Lake Road. A memorandum of understanding was reached more than a year ago to clear the way for the completion of the section, and the City of Kelowna has opened the bidding process for a contractor to do the work.

The land surrounding the rail trail in that area is First Nations land. The closed section of the rail trail itself is expected to be transfered from the federal government to the OKIB at some point in the future.

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