Investigation of watercraft deaths continues
SOUTH LAKE TAHOE -A former employee at Lakeside Marina has admitted taking two Sea-Doos last week, one of which was involved in an accident that killed two people.
Dustin Goodman, 21, has not been charged with a crime. El Dorado County Assistant District Attorney Hans Uthe said he will review the case after he receives all the reports, which he expects in about a week.
“I’ve got some preliminary information that Douglas County talked to him and he’s admitted to some culpability,” Uthe said. “It’s a little sketchy how the other two ended up with it. It’s still being sorted out.”
Uthe was unsure what charges would apply to the crime, but he said his actions would focus on the theft of the Sea-Doos, not the death of the two men, which occurred in Douglas County.
Gregory Westbrook and Charles “Chip” Williams died from injuries they suffered when they motored straight into a dock at Nevada 4-H Camp early on July 26.
Goodman, a Michigan man who has been at South Lake Tahoe since at least May, is planning a move back to his home state. If he is charged with a crime related to his taking the Sea-Doo, Uthe said Goodman will be mailed a citation asking him to return to El Dorado County for a court appearance.
This is not the first time Goodman has tangled with the law since he’s been in South Lake Tahoe. On Tuesday in El Dorado County Superior court, he was sentenced for driving under the influence, which he was arrested for July 7. He was sentenced to six days work release, 36 months probation, ordered to attend a drug and alcohol program in Michigan and fined $1,940 for the crime.
Roger Gadsby, operations manager at Lakeside Marina, remembers Goodman calling him at work asking him to post his bail, a request he denied.
Gadsby said Goodman was a persistent man who had spent three weeks working at the marina and knew how to free up and start the Sea-Doos.
Westbrook, 21, also of Michigan, was a close friend of Goodman. Gadsby said while Goodman was employed at the marina he asked to leave work so he could pick up Westbrook at a train station in Truckee.
July 21 was the last day Goodman worked at the marina. Gadsby said Goodman was phased out of a job because there was no work for him.
“I told him, ‘We’ve got no work for you,’ but the guy was very pushy, you couldn’t drive him away with a sledgehammer,” Gadsby said.
Twice after Gadsby told Goodman he had no work for him Goodman showed up at the marina with Westbrook begging to take a boat out.
“Can I take a boat out and show my friend the lake?” Gadsby recalled Goodman saying.
Sometime overnight on July 25, the Sea-Doos Goodman took for a joyride ended up moored just outside the Riva Grill at Ski Run Marina.
Around 12:45 a.m., Westbrook and Williams, 24, of South Lake Tahoe, boarded one of the Sea-Doos to go for a ride. Goodman and Heidi Hill, a 21-year-old student at the University of Colorado at Boulder, boarded the other machine.
“It was late, we had been drinking too much,” Hill said by phone from Colorado. “We were going to meet at Chip’s boat but we could never find it.”
Williams’ boat was anchored 150 yards off Ski Run Marina.
“I told the guy I wanted to come back in after we turned and tipped over. We didn’t ever see Chip and the other guy.”
Hill said she remembers Williams getting on the Sea-Doo first, but she said she never heard or saw their Sea-Doo after the machines motored from the marina.
Goodman played around and made circles on the Sea-Doo, but they never got very far from shore, Hill said.
After Goodman took her back to shore he got really worried about Westbrook and Williams, Hill said. But Hill left the marina with her friend Hannah Herback right after she got back to shore and didn’t hear of the tragedy until Tuesday.
Herback, 22, of South Lake Tahoe, had worked with Williams at The Brewery at the Lake. She said she saw a man she didn’t know driving one Sea-Doo and Westbrook driving the other.
“Chip said ‘Let’s go on the Wave Runners,'” Herback said. “I told him no, because I thought it was too dangerous. They didn’t wear any life jackets, they just took off. They had been drinking. The last words I said to Chip were, ‘Be safe out there Chip.” He said, “I know the lake, I’ll be safe.”
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Motorists can expect to see roadwork projects throughout the area this week.