Official: Boat that crashed was speeding

A cigarette boat that collided with another boat near the mouth of Newport Harbor Sunday night may have reached speeds approaching 30 knots — six times the harbor's 5 knot speed limit, an official said.

The crash left four of seven passengers on the two boats with minor injuries.

"[The driver of the cigarette boat] was moving," Newport Beach Fire Department Capt. Glenn White said Tuesday. "You can tell by the damage to the slower, smaller boat that the impact was significant."

The slower-moving 14-foot power boat capsized and was later recovered.

White said alcohol was not believed to be a factor in the crash.

Orange County Sheriff's Department spokesman Lt. Jeff Hallock said in an email that as of Tuesday afternoon no arrests had been made or citations issued regarding the crash.

However, he said, "At the conclusion of the investigation, one or both of the drivers may be cited."

Hallock declined to comment on whether both boats were speeding because the investigation was continuing.

The 25-foot race boat hit the 14-foot power boat about 9:30 p.m. Sunday, authorities said.

Official accounts vary regarding the length of the boats and the time of the accident.

Officials with the Orange County Sheriff's Department said the cigarette-style boat was 27-feet long, while the power boat was 20- to 22-feet long. Another OCSD official said the accident could have happened at 8:18 p.m.

The four injured passengers were in the water for five to seven minutes before rescuers reached them, White said.

The man and three women were taken to local hospitals, according to the Fire Department.

One person was unconscious when rescuers arrived but later regained consciousness, White said.

Injuries included lacerations, breathing difficulty and a possible fracture, according to the department. Information on the patients' conditions was not available Tuesday afternoon.

Because of the point of contact, the

smaller boat protected the passengers when it flipped over, sparing them from the full force of the larger boat, White said.

"They're very lucky someone didn't get knocked out and drown," White said.

Those on shore described hearing the revving of an engine and a loud bang, and some attributed the noise to fireworks, White said.

"Witnesses in the area indicated that [the driver] got on his throttle, right around full speed, at about China Cove," he said Tuesday.

It wasn't until the Huntington Beach Police Department helicopter illuminated the scene that the crash became apparent, White said.

Deputies with the sheriff's Harbor Patrol interviewed the three men from the cigarette boat Sunday night, White said. Two women were also on the boat, and a man and a woman were in the smaller boat at the time of the crash.

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