Week in Review : MAJOR EVENTS, IMAGES AND PEOPLE IN ORANGE COUNTY NEWS : COURTS : Driver in Boat Crash Sentenced to 3 Years

Times staff writer Bob Schwartz compiled the Week in Review stories

A judge, citing the defendant's reckless behavior of the past 10 years, sentenced Virl H. Earles to three years in prison for crashing a powerboat into a concrete buoy in Anaheim Bay two years ago, killing five passengers.

Superior Court Judge Jean H. Rheinheimer said she agreed that Earles, formerly of Seal Beach but now living in Westminster, "was an accident waiting to happen" as he was described by a relative of one of the victims.

Before the sentencing, Rheinheimer read aloud Earles' record of arrests since 1976--two for public drunkenness, three for reckless driving, four for speeding, one for driving under the influence and two for minor burglaries 10 years ago, plus several probation violations.

Earles had a high blood-alcohol content and was driving at least five times the posted 5-m.p.h. speed limit at the time of the crash on Oct. 28, 1984.

Shortly before the hearing, Earles' wife, Lori, went into labor with the couple's first child.

Earles, 31, does not have to begin serving the sentence until Dec. 12, giving him time to file an appeal.

He was convicted three months ago at his second trial of five counts of involuntary manslaughter in the deaths of the five young people aboard the boat he was driving. The first trial ended in a hung jury, deadlocked 9 to 3 in favor of acquitting him.

The night of the crash, Earles and eight others met at the Red Onion at Peter's Landing in Huntington Harbour and went by boat from there to Long Beach at about 2 a.m. to view the Queen Mary.

On the return trip from Long Beach, Earles entered the bay driving between 25 and 30 m.p.h. and misjudged the location of the safe boating channel, according to testimony at his trial. All nine were thrown from the boat when it crashed into an 11-foot-wide mooring buoy.

Killed were Anthony Sutton, 27, Ronald Myers, 22, and John Bakos, 22, all of Seal Beach; Kathy Weaver, 24, of Laguna Beach, and Patricia Hulings, 20, of Downey. Four other people, including Earles, were injured.

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