Sea Doo may have cut off boat |

Sea Doo may have cut off boat

Rob Bhatt

Justin Rauh probably did not even see the motorboat before he crossed its path Wednesday evening in the accident that killed him.

Based on witness statements, investigators believe the 13-year-old boy from Elk Grove, Calif., made a 180-degree turn on a rented Sea Doo right before he was struck by the 19-foot outboard.

The driver of the boat, Einar R. Nelson, 26, of Stateline, reportedly told police he was slowly heading back to the El Dorado Beach Boat Ramp at about 5:30 p.m. Neither the exact speed of his boat nor that for the watercraft could be verified Thursday.

The bow was raised due to the slow speed and Nelson said he did not see the youth until after he heard a thud from the collision. The front of the boat reportedly broadsided the victim from his right.

Rauh’s father, John, saw the accident from the Beachcomber Inn, which overlooks the scene. The father could not be reached for comment Thursday, but his statement to officers confirmed the boater’s description of the accident, said Police Sgt. Mike Ritter.

The investigation continues, but Ritter said initial findings suggest that the watercraft violated the boat’s right of way.

“It seems mostly to be a tragic accident,” Ritter added.

The Rauhs checked out of the Beachcomber Inn Thursday afternoon. They had been staying at the time-share resort for nearly a week, according to an employee at the business.

Final results from an autopsy Thursday were not available.

However, based on initial investigation, Sheriff’s Sgt. Jim Watson said massive trauma to the right side of the boy’s head appeared to be the cause of the death.

Drugs or alcohol are not suspected factors.

Nelson saw the youth floating in the water after the collision and brought him into the boat to begin CPR. Another watercraft user climbed into the boat to drive it back to shore. There a bystander joined in efforts to rescusitate the youth until firefighters and paramedics arrived, according to a police report.

The boy was taken by ambulance to Barton Memorial Hospital, where he was later pronounced dead.

The accident was the first fatality on Lake Tahoe this year. Last year, the only fatality on the lake was a man who drowned after his canoe capsized off Edgewood Tahoe Golf Course, according to U.S. Coast Guard officials.

Support Local Journalism

Support Local Journalism

Readers around the Lake Tahoe Basin and beyond make the Tahoe Tribune's work possible. Your financial contribution supports our efforts to deliver quality, locally relevant journalism.

Now more than ever, your support is critical to help us keep our community informed about the evolving coronavirus pandemic and the impact it is having locally. Every contribution, however large or small, will make a difference.

Your donation will help us continue to cover COVID-19 and our other vital local news.