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3 From O.C. Die in Boat Collision on Colorado River

September 21, 2003|Mike Anton | Times Staff Writer

Three people from Orange County were killed and a fourth person was hospitalized in intensive care after a high-speed boat collision on the Colorado River.

Arizona authorities late Saturday had not released the names of the victims in the crash, which occurred about 6:30 p.m. Friday on a stretch of the river known as Parker Strip, 35 miles south of Lake Havasu.

"We're still trying to piece together what happened," said Capt. Rich Gilbank of the Buckskin Fire Department. "It's the worst accident we've had here in a year."

The La Paz County Sheriff's Department is investigating the crash but released no information Saturday.

Gilbank said the dead were from Orange County. Two women he believed were 19 died at the scene. A 21-year-old man -- the brother of one of the women -- was found by Fire Department divers about an hour after the accident.

The fourth person, a male, was taken to a Phoenix hospital.

Gilbank said the crash happened as a regatta was heading north on the crowded river.

"One of them did an abrupt right turn and crashed almost head on" into the victims' boat, he said.

"It split it in half. It hit the right side and rode over the top.... People were saying they were going 55 mph, but it could have been more than that."

The victims' boat -- a picklefork, jet-driven craft common to the Colorado River -- sank. He said its passengers had been staying at the Red Rock campground in Arizona.

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