An extreme-sports film producer has been acquitted of helping to orchestrate a snowmobile stunt in Squamish, which cost a young man his life.
B.C. Supreme Court Justice Robert Bauman found there was not enough evidence to convict Jeremy Deichen of criminal negligence causing death in the incident, which took place during a drunken party in July 2002.
The Vancouver court heard earlier that 23-year-old Josh Chapman died of severe burns after he was set ablaze during a snowmobile stunt.
A 15-year-old youth was found guilty last year of criminal negligence causing death for throwing gasoline on the snowmobiler.
The youth testified in the Deichen trial, telling the court that the producer asked him to the buy the gas. Later the youth said he was instructed to throw it as Chapman drove his snowmobile across a line of fire.
There were no emergency crews standing by for the stunt, nor was Chapman wearing any protective clothing.
The youth’s evidence was considered crucial but the judge found that the testimony was not credible.
Deichen’s production company, Loaded Gun Productions, produces videos that feature wild and sometimes dangerous stunts.
However, the court heard that Deichen, who did film the stunt, was not shooting for a film at the time of the incident.
After the accident Deichen and an associate left the scene quickly while others called 911.
After the verdict was delivered Deichen’s lawyer, Matthew Nathanson, told The Province newspaper, "obviously we’re pleased now that he’s been exonerated.
"It’s a very excruciating thing to be accused of a crime that you did not commit."
Chapman’s mother Kathy Chapman attended the trial and the verdict, which was announced last week.
Outside of the court she appeared upset and angry, reported The Province.
" Mr. Deichen didn’t try to help my son," she said. "He ran. That’s the thing that bothers me the most."