38-year-old San Diego man held on $3M bail after joyride in stolen yacht ends in collision
A man was detained by Orange County Sheriff’s Harbor Patrol deputies Thursday morning and held on $3-million bail after he allegedly stole a 60-foot yacht and crashed it into multiple vessels docked near Lido Island Bridge, officials reported.
Joel Praneet Siam, 38, of San Diego, was transferred into the custody of Newport Beach Police and booked on suspicion of grand theft boat/vessel and being in possession of a stolen vessel, according to NBPD spokeswoman Heather Rangel.
While authorities believe Siam’s joyride was preceded by an act of vandalism on the 1200 block of Pacific Coast Highway, Sheriff’s Department spokesman Lt. Ryan Anderson said Harbor Patrol deputies were first notified of a boat collision in Newport Beach Harbor shortly after 10 a.m.
Responders dispatched to the scene were also told a 60-foot craft had been stolen from a local yacht broker and may have been involved in the incident.
“The boat was apparently being serviced at the local yacht broker,” Anderson said Thursday. “[It] was being motored and collided with at least two other vessels in slips near the Lido Island Bridge, where the boat stopped.”
In a matter of about 10 minutes, deputies were able to locate and board the yacht, which became pinned after hitting a seawall near the bridge. They boarded the craft and arrested Siam, who surrendered.
Anderson said although deputies who work Harbor Patrol duty receive specialized training that allows them to patrol harbor areas and safely board watercraft, Thursday’s incident was unique.
“Something with this kind of damage is an isolated incident and is pretty rare,” he said.
Rangel said police believe the incident began shortly before 9:30 a.m. with an act of vandalism near Pacific Coast Highway near the Balboa Bay Resort.
“He committed a vandalism and went across the street, where there is water, and he stole a boat,” Rangel said.
Several witnesses went on social media, where they posted video of boats crashing and shared what they saw. Newport Beach resident Todd Newkirk was working on a construction project on the fifth floor of the Newport Towers when he heard a big boom and rushed to the balcony to see what had happened.
“I wasn’t sure if it was an explosion,” he said. “He was on the east side of the Lido Bridge and hit the first dock over there — there was a huge wake, like he had made a U-turn. Then, he got pinned but the motor was running on full power.”
“At first I thought the guy had had a heart attack and lost control of the boat,” Newkirk continued. “But then I saw he got arrested. If he was sick, they would have taken him in an ambulance.”
Anderson said it is unclear whether drugs or alcohol may have played a role in the incident. The recovered yacht was being temporarily housed in the Sheriff’s Harbor Patrol Division yard in Corona del Mar and appeared to have sustained some damage to its side and bow.
The amount of damage caused to the two vessels struck by the yacht has yet to be determined, he added.
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