Woman killed when boat falls off trailer into car’s path on highway near San Diego

Map shows approximate location where a boat being towed slid off its trailer into a car’s path
Map shows approximate location where a boat being towed slid off its trailer into car’s path.

A driver died Saturday after her car slammed into a boat that had fallen off a trailer as it was being towed on a state highway east of San Diego, officials said.

The motorist was identified as Jennifer Kathleen Nichols, 49, of Bonita. She was the wife of interim San Diego Harbor Police Chief Kirk Nichols, who was a passenger in the car and suffered minor injuries.

The crash was reported around 6:20 p.m. on California 94 in Jamul.

The California Highway Patrol said Robert Keith Thomas, 28, was driving a 2000 Mazda B3000 truck pulling a boat on a trailer when the boat detached from the trailer as he turned onto the highway from a side road.


“The boat came off the trailer and then the trailer detached from the truck,” CHP spokesperson Travis Garrow said.

The boat fell onto the road directly in the path of the 2016 Fiat 500 driven by Jennifer Nichols, which was heading east. The front of the boat slammed into the left front corner of the Fiat, officials said.

Thomas, who lives in Jamestown, Calif., in Tuolumne County, was arrested on suspicion of vehicular manslaughter with gross negligence, officials said. Investigators said alcohol and drugs were not believed to be factors in the crash.

Nichols suffered multiple injuries and was taken by helicopter to a trauma center, where she later died.

Port of San Diego President and Chief Executive Joe Stuyvesant in a statement Monday said:

“The Port of San Diego extends our heartfelt condolences to Chief Nichols and his family and friends as they begin to process their tragic and sudden loss. They have our full support and are in our thoughts and prayers at this unimaginably difficult time. The Nichols family requests privacy as they grieve.”