A local family is on the hook for approximately $15,000 in orchard repairs after a motorist ran off the road and destroyed 200 apple trees, several posts, and irrigation lines in the early hours of Sunday morning.
Orchard owner Satnam Khakh said she found the extensive damage around 7 a.m. Sunday morning during her regular walk around her property located at the end of Coulthard Road where Barcello Road crosses.
“I came out to check things and found this mess,” she said while picking through irrigation lines and broken tree limbs.
Unless the culprit can be found the damage to the orchard will not be covered by insurance. Crop insurance does not cover vandalism but its intent is to cover things like damage from hail, wind, etc.
About 20 feet of skid marks could be seen on Coulthard Road in line with where the vehicle entered the orchard.
The vehicle crashed into the orchard travelling about 100-feet before reversing and causing another 100-feet of damage as it found its way out again. The truck took with it a trail of debris heading east down Barcello Drive.
“They went in 10 rows. There’s 200 trees damaged, irrigation lines, posts,” she said.
The trees were Gala apples and were in full production. Khakh sells the apples grown on the 12-acre orchard directly to a packing house.
Khakh, who lives a few hundred feet from where the damage was caused, said she woke up sometime during the night to the sound of a vehicle revving its engine but when she looked out the windows she couldn’t see anything.
She found two side mirrors and a small amount of red paint on a wire she believes came from the vehicle. She found other pieces of the vehicle while cleaning up the debris Tuesday morning and she said a mechanic friend thought they might be from a Chevy style pickup.
The police did attend the scene Sunday morning.
Cpl. Kat Thain said the colour and make of the truck could not be confirmed at this time.
“It was definitely a truck we determined that by looking at the size of the tire marks left in the orchard,” she said.
This isn’t the first time the orchard has been damaged by vehicles. Khakh said the last two winters at least 10 trees each year have been damaged. She suspects the damage was mainly caused by motorists sliding off the road in bad winter conditions. However, no one ever came forward to take responsibility for the damage they caused.
“Maybe someone can put cement blocks down. It’s too much,” she said.
The Khakh family is facing a large financial loss if the culprit cannot be found and restitution made.
The family is offering a cash reward for information relating to the incident.
Anyone who has information relating to this crime should contact the Keremeos police station at 250-499-5511 or CrimeStoppers at 1-800-222-TIPS.