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Man held in Ferrari crash case

Officials say mystery witness was actually a passenger in $1-million Enzo totaled in Malibu.

August 11, 2007|Bob Pool | Times Staff Writer

A 17-month search for a mysterious witness to a high-speed crash that left a $1-million Ferrari Enzo in pieces in Malibu has ended with the arrest of a 26-year-old Marina del Rey man.

Trevor Michael Karney was in custody Friday on misdemeanor charges of drunk driving, resisting arrest by delaying a police officer and giving false information to a police officer, along with a possible federal immigration violation, Los Angeles County sheriff's officials said.

Authorities believe that Karney is the fictitious "Dietrich" who fled after the spectacular Feb. 21, 2006, crash that left the Ferrari -- one of only 400 ever built -- strewn in pieces over 1,200 feet of Pacific Coast Highway.

Investigators allege that he hid out in Ireland before recently sneaking back into the U.S. through Mexico.

Sheriff's deputies estimated that the Ferrari was going 120 mph when it slammed into a power pole and split in half. The driver -- Bo Stefan Eriksson -- escaped with a bloody nose.

Initially, Eriksson, a Swedish businessman and playboy, told investigators that a German he knew only as Dietrich had been driving. He ran up a hill toward a canyon road and disappeared after the crash, Eriksson said.

Deputies responding to the crash encountered Karney at the scene. He told them he had been traveling along PCH in a Mercedes at the time and also saw Dietrich fleeing.

Authorities used a helicopter and a search-and-rescue team but never found any sign of Dietrich.

"Maybe the 'driver' had a friend who picked him up. Maybe he thumbed a ride. Maybe he was a ghost," Sheriff's Sgt. Phil Brooks said at the time.

Turns out he was Karney, deputies now say, and he was riding in the Ferrari with Eriksson, not driving it.

"They're thinking that Dietrich is him. They're thinking Karney is really Dietrich," Deputy Oscar Butao said Friday.

The investigation indicated that Karney was videotaping Eriksson driving at speeds of up to 162 mph as the Ferrari roared north on PCH near Decker Road about 6 a.m.

After the crash splintered the bright-red sports car, Karney reportedly borrowed a passerby's cellphone and sat in the front seat of that motorist's car while he made a call. Later, the motorist told authorities he found a loaded clip for an automatic pistol under the seat.

Karney, who had told authorities that he lived on a yacht in Marina del Rey, disappeared after the crash. Investigators found that the luxury boat belonged to Carl Freer, a Swede who was a partner of Eriksson in a defunct video game company called Gizmundo.

Eriksson accepted a plea deal in November, pleading no contest to two counts of embezzlement related to his dealings with exotic cars and one count of illegal possession of a gun. An auto theft charge was dismissed and Eriksson was sentenced to three years in prison.

Sheriff's officials said Karney was arrested Wednesday at a Marina del Rey apartment complex.

He was expected to make a court appearance Monday on the drunk-driving charge, which is unrelated to the Ferrari incident, prosecutors said.

Karney was being held in lieu of $60,000 bail.

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bob.pool@latimes.com

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