Boat crash case heads to trial

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SANDPOINT — The case against a Sandpoint man accused of crashing his powerboat into an moored sailboat at Lake Pend Oreille’s Ellisport Bay is going to trial.

No resolution emerged during a pretrial hearing on Thursday, clearing the way for Jonathan Richard Beckley to be tried for grossly negligent operation of a vessel and other offenses.

Beckley’s trial in Bonner County Magistrate Court was set for next month, but is being reset. A new trial date is pending.

In addition to the aforementioned offense, Beckley is further charged with violating three provisions of Idaho’s Safe Boating Act and child endangerment.

Beckley, 37, collided with the unoccupied sailboat on the night of Aug. 12.

A 4-year-old boy aboard the powerboat escaped injury in the crash, although a woman fractured her tailbone in two places during the collision, marine patrol deputy reports said.

Beckley estimated he was driving about 30 miles an hour when the crash occurred, the reports said. The boat was moored about 120 feet from shore. No-wake zones extend 200 feet from shore, docks and bridge piers in Bonner County.

The female passenger told deputies Beckley was driving fast enough to prompt her to take the child below deck to protect him, according to the police reports. After the collision, the out-of-control powerboat ran aground 200 feet from the crash scene.

Beckley was also charged with negligent operation of a vessel after allegedly driving recklessly through the no-wake zone ringing Warren Island and hitting a marker buoy on July 15. A landowner on the small island recognized Beckley because the two were involved in a civil dispute involving crane work.

The landowner prevailed in the lawsuit, according to documents on file in 1st District Court.

In a pretrial settlement agreement in the July negligent operations case, the misdemeanor was reduced to an infraction for unsafe speed in an exchange for a plea of guilt, according to court documents.

Beckley accepted the offer and was fined after entering the plea, court records show.

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