Speedboater Died From Internal Injuries

TIMES STAFF WRITER

A Newport Beach man killed when he lost control of a speedboat on Emerald Bay, injuring three passengers, died from massive internal injuries, an Orange County sheriff's spokesman said Monday.

Adam Zipp, 48, was thrown to the boat's floorboard in the Sunday accident, Sheriff's Lt. Ron Wilkerson said. "The trauma caused a tear of his aorta. He suffered a lot of internal bleeding."

Zipp's three passengers--Melissa Bail, 26, of Palos Verdes, Leslie McCoy, 39, of San Diego and Rod Steel, 35, of Aliso Viejo--sustained minor injuries.

"It was a freakish accident," Steel said Monday, nursing a broken rib. "The water was calm. I had been on the boat with Adam at least two dozen times and never had a close call until Sunday."

Steel, a fitness trainer, said he had known Zipp for nearly four years and worked as his personal trainer for a while. He described Zipp as "an extremely brilliant guy" who co-founded Diagnostic Solutions, a high-tech company in Irvine.

Company officials did not return calls for comment Monday.

Zipp had been cruising in the water with his passengers for about two hours when the accident occurred about 2:30 p.m., Steel said. He said Zipp was returning to a friend's boat, which was cruising nearby, when he passed over the second boat's wake and attempted to turn the speedboat.

"All I remember was that we went through the wake and we were turning. It wasn't even a large wake because the other boat was going slow," Steel said.

"I think it was a combination of going fast and taking the wake in a turn" that caused the accident.

Zipp and the passengers were not thrown overboard but were bounced around inside the speedboat when Zipp lost control.

Steel said that McCoy was sitting in the front passenger seat, Bail was in the rear passenger seat, and he was standing in the middle of the boat when the accident happened.

There were no seat belts in the boat.

"When the boat stopped, I looked around and saw Adam sprawled out diagonally, between the front and rear seats. He was starting to lose color when I started giving him CPR," Steel said.

Zipp's friend in the other boat summoned help on his cellular phone, Steel added.

Sheriff's officials said that a Newport Beach Fire Department boat arrived at about the same time as Laguna Beach lifeguard Scott Diederich and four other boats, whose pilots saw the accident or responded to calls for help.

Zipp was transported to Hoag Memorial Hospital Presbyterian in Newport Beach, where he died.

Wilkerson said investigators believe the incident was an accident and do not plan to investigate further.

"Adam's death is a tremendous loss. He was one of my best friends, but the world has suffered a bigger loss. He had a doctorate in biophysics and was doing some great things," Steel said.

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