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4 Believed Dead After Boat Crash

Divers on the Colorado River seek two bodies after two known deaths. The O.C. owner of the speedboat is accused of DUI and manslaughter.

September 08, 2004|Lance Pugmire | Times Staff Writer

Dive teams on the Colorado River continued searching Tuesday for two missing Southern California men believed to be the third and fourth people killed in a predawn boat crash Monday.

The boat's driver, Scott Eickhoff, 31, of Anaheim Hills, was arrested on suspicion of vehicular manslaughter and felony boating under the influence. Eickhoff was traveling 35 to 40 mph when he slammed his 23-foot 1998 Renegade speedboat into a concrete pillar of Topock Bridge, a railroad span from Arizona to California near Interstate 40, said Dave Smith, a San Bernardino County sheriff's deputy.

Search and rescue divers, helped by an Arizona law enforcement helicopter, extensively searched the deep, murky water around the bridge, looking for the bodies of Dale Baldwin, 35, of Huntington Beach and Rorey McMahan, 28, of Redlands.

Ryan McMahan of Mohave Valley, Ariz. -- Rorey McMahan's 27-year-old brother -- was killed in the crash, as was Jennifer Knight, 25, of Corona. Ryan McMahan's wife, Brenna, 27, suffered facial injuries that kept her hospitalized Tuesday.

For The Record
Los Angeles Times Friday September 10, 2004 Home Edition Main News Part A Page 2 National Desk 1 inches; 49 words Type of Material: Correction
Boat crash -- An article in Wednesday's California section about a Colorado River boating crash on Monday said that a survivor, Brenna McMahan, was the wife of Ryan McMahan, who was killed in the crash. She is married to his brother, Rorey McMahan, who was missing after the incident.

Eickhoff and seven of his friends had "closed the bar" at nearby Topock Marina early Monday morning when they "decided to go for a boat ride," said Rob Alexander, a San Bernardino County sheriff's detective.

They crashed about 3:30 a.m. Monday. The occupants, some with only minor injuries, were all ejected from the boat, which then sank an estimated 150 yards from shore, Smith said.

Eickhoff and three others -- Jeff Leinen, 34, of Orange; Simon Pirotta, 35, of Riverside; and Brenna McMahan -- reached shore safely.

Alexander said authorities had not yet determined whether the fatalities were caused by crash injuries or drowning while trying to swim to shore.

Investigators said lights mounted on the bridge pillars were working at the time.

Survivors were not helpful on the crash's cause, Smith said.

"I wouldn't say [the survivors] were being evasive -- some just don't flat remember any of it," Smith said. "We know alcohol was a factor. There were eight people on the boat, cruising and talking. It's probably a case of not watching, not paying attention. People need to pay attention on the water."

Eickhoff, part owner of a recreational vehicle business in Anaheim, "seemed remorseful," Smith said, "as if he knew his life is ultimately going to change."

An employee at Eickhoff's Custom RV said Eickhoff was "doing well

The case has not yet been turned over to the county district attorney's office for any formal filing of charges.

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