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Khaos In Konocti

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  • Khaos In Konocti

    The local Wylie Wabbit Fleet are far from hell raisers. Well, maybe back in the day, but now, the gentrified fleet is "generally plus 45 years old and professionals", says Jim Malloy, one of the original Wylie Wabbit owners.

    But this weekend's encounter with local Park Rangers has turned the annual Konocti Cup from one of a joyous family retreat to on of trepidation and one of fear. Is it a reprisal from local law enforcement seeking revenge on the local sailing community or just bad judgment by one officer representing the local authority?

    The Wylie Wabbits have attended the Konocti Cup for some 30-31 years in a row and is always a highlight in the family oriented, and aging fleet. This years event started as usual, with a 5-6 hour , 26 mile sail in 12-15 knots. The attendees then moved on to the Konocti YC BQ before retreating to the local campground for further Wabbit Family Fun, a campfire and a slow ccoked communal meal.

    Dinner was served around 9:00 PM and it was then that officer D.B. Conner made his appearance, and things went down hill fast.

    According to Jim, the officer in question, came in with a chip on his shoulder and a clear intent to impose his official office and its powers with wonton disregard to reality or the law. His intrusion to the campsite , citing issues from the previous night (when the Wabbit fleet had not yet arrived) and informing attendees that " He could cite all of you and throw you out" was received with wide eyed concern and contemplation. With the feeling they had just met Barney Fife on a roid rage, the group began to raise from chairs and head back to cars or tents, seeking to avoid further confrontation.

    The officer in question then asks one of participants for his drivers license, indicating that "he is looking for a warrant". At this point the crew is just looking for avoidance of this rather unpleasant encounter, and while working their way to their cars. Jim mutters "This guy is acting like a Jack-ass", which as far as our fine constitution permits, is allowed under the 1st Amendment. It was then the weirdness got weirder, and the officer charged the 72 year old sailor, saying " What did you say?" and violently grabbing his wrist and twisting behind his back before hand cuffing Jim with plastic click-ties.

    He then went on to say he was going to arrest the rest of the crew for having too many cars and too many people in the campsites ( despite them ALL having paid the day use fee for visiting use) The crowd,
    doing their best NOT to incite further action stood silently nearby.

    After several minutes, the officer finally came to the realization that he was not getting the response he had hoped for an there were far too many witnesses to even have a prayer in court, released Jim and departed. As did a majority of the veterans of this annual family tradition.

    The event follows on the heels of the Russell Perdock Case, were the local County Sheriff ran into a sailboat in the dark, killing the sailboats driver, Bismark Dinius.
    While there is no exacting connection , Officer Conners actions certainly are out of the norm and one wonders if local authority in Lake County have sought a retaliatory agenda on the sailing visitors, or whether the officer in question is an isolated case. The scuttle butt on the street indicates that several of the veterans in the group have no intention on returning to the Konocti Cup or any other Lake County events EVER, if this is the new reality.
    Last edited by Photoboy; 05-03-2013, 07:09 AM.
    " I just found out my nest egg has salmonella" Photo Gallery

  • #2
    I can understand why people would simply seek to avoid further confrontation, but the only way to stop this trend is to fight against it every way possible. The officer should be brought on charges.

    Cops have dangerous jobs -- but not, by-the-way, the most dangerous by a _long shot_ -- and I know and respect some cops, but from the account here it doesn't sound like this one should be in that line of work.


    • #3
      Bismark Dinius was the sitting at the helm of the slowly drifting sailboat that Deputy dogshit Perdock ran over in the dark. Lyn Thornton was killed and everyone else on board suffered various injuries.
      Bismark was charged with Manslaughter and bankrupted before he was declared innocent.

      This is a brief review of the events from early in the saga:

      A Strange Case of Justice
      By Bob Adriance
      At approximately 9:30 p.m. on April 29, 2006, five friends on a 27’ O’Day were sailing toward their marina on California’s Clear Lake. It was an almost moonless night, very dark, with barely a hint of wind. The sailboat was ghosting through the water when a 385 hp, 24’ Baja Outlaw with three people aboard sped through the darkness and struck the sailboat’s starboard stern quarter.
      According to forensic experts, the Baja ramped over the sailboat and crushed the cabin bulkhead, leaving prop marks in the deck. Much of the sailboat’s cabin top was torn off and its aluminum mast was sheared completely off at the base. The Baja exited on the port bow. Although the O’Day had rolled heavily to starboard and taken on water, both boats remained afloat. All five people on the sailboat suffered injuries, ranging from cuts and bruises to broken ribs and concussions. A 51-year-old woman, Lyn Thornton, who was the fiancée of the boat’s owner, Mark Weber, died a few days later from her injuries. The sailboat was insured through the BoatU.S. Marine Insurance program.
      After a brief investigation by the Lake County Sheriff’s Department, 39-year-old Bismark Dinius, who had been at the helm of the sailboat, was charged with manslaughter and faces up to four years in jail. The driver of the powerboat, Deputy Sheriff Russell Perdock, was not charged. Perdock is the number two official at the Lake County Sheriff’s Department.
      If you think there’s a story here, you’re right. And the story is still unfolding.
      A Few Facts
      · Alcohol. Right from the start, questions were raised about how the investigation was handled. As soon as the police arrived, Dinius was given a breathalyzer test and later a blood test at the hospital. He was found to have a BAC of .12. The bigger issue is Deputy Sheriff Perdock’s blood alcohol level. A Lake County sergeant told a local TV reporter that he was instructed by a superior not to give a breathalyzer test to Chief Deputy Perdock. Instead, Lake County Sheriff James Beland drove Perdock to a nearby hospital where a blood sample was taken.
      Accounts vary as to what happened next. Beland testified that after they left the hospital, he drove around with Perdock for more than an hour before taking him home and then dropping off the blood sample at the Lower Lake Substation. Beland couldn’t remember what they talked about, but he was fairly certain they didn’t talk about the accident. Beland also couldn’t remember whether the blood sample was in his car’s trunk or on the passenger seat. Perdock contradicted Beland’s testimony, saying that he was certain he didn’t ride home from the hospital with Beland, although he couldn’t recall how he got home. Russell Perdock said that he’d had “part of a Coors Lite” earlier that afternoon. His blood test came back clean, but according to the label placed on the sample at the hospital he was tested 24 hours after the accident. A deputy filed an addendum later saying that someone at the hospital must have made a mistake; Perdock’s blood was tested two hours after the accident.
      · Lights. Were the sailboat’s running lights on or off when it was struck from astern? As one expert said, the navigation light question is “a very major factor in this collision.” The sailboat’s owner, Mark Weber, who was aboard but not at the helm, claimed the lights were on and Perdock claimed they were off. Dinius didn’t know whether Weber had turned on the running lights, but noted the cabin light had to have been illuminated or he could not have seen the wind indicator. He said the cabin light lit up the cockpit “like a patio light.” Two passengers aboard the sailboat also testified that the sailboat cabin lights were on.
      The California Department of Justice examined the lights and determined that the stern light had not been illuminated when it was struck by the Baja. But Dr. William Chilcott, an expert witness with Marine Testing Company, examined the stern light under a microscope and concluded, that because the tungsten filament was stretched at the ends next to the support arms but not in the middle, it had been illuminated a “millisecond” before the crash. (The wire supplying power to the stern light was severed a millisecond before the light itself was struck, which was why portions of the filament were stretched.) Filaments are very resistant to stretching when cold but are quite receptive to stretching when hot. Chilcott noted that the Department of Justice investigation did not take stretching into account or the fact that voltage to the bulb was discontinued milliseconds before the impact. A second expert witness, Wes Dodd, who had training on the detection of cold breaks, concurred with Dr. Chilcott’s findings that both the mast light and stern light were on at the time of impact.
      It’s worth noting that the switch for the running light breaker switch on the boat was in the “OFF” position, although this could have happened when the boat was struck and the electrical wire supplying voltage to the light was severed. The cabin light switch was “ON.” The sailboat was left unsecured for at least nine hours after the accident and the observation was recorded two days after the collision. This was not addressed in the lake County Sheriff’s Department report.
      Eyewitnesses had contradicting testimony. Two young girls who were ashore and two fishermen in a small boat said the sailboat’s lights were not illuminated. But Doug Jones, who owns a marina on Clear Lake, saw the sailboat and was “sure” the lights were on. As the boat was heading out, he watched as the cabin’s light and then the navigation lights were turned on. A second witness also saw the lights being turned on. Dan Noyes, a television reporter who investigated the story for ABC news in San Francisco, identified nine people on the sailboat or on shore who said they had seen the sailboat’s running lights, cabin light or both shortly before the collision. But when he told the Lake County District Attorney there were witnesses who had seen the lights, Noyes was told, “No, there are not.” One of the potential witnesses, Doug Jones, told Noyes that when he tried to tell a deputy sheriff that he’d seen the sailboat’s lights, he was told they had already proven there were no lights on. This was at 8:00 a.m. on the morning after the accident. He told Noyes the deputy refused to take his statement.
      · Speed. One of the witnesses on shore who said that he saw the sailboat’s running lights was a retired law enforcement officer. The same retired officer told Noyes that he saw the speeding Baja shortly before the collision and had commented to friends, “There’s a clown who is either going to kill himself or somebody else.” He estimated the boat was going about 50 mph. Other witnesses who had seen the Baja estimated it was going as fast as 60 mph.
      Perdock originally told Lt. Charles Slabaugh of the Sacramento County Sheriff’s office, that the speedometer was straight up, in the 12 o’clock position, which would have indicated the boat’s speed was 55 to 60 mph. (Slabaugh was called in to lead the investigation because of Perdock’s position with the Clear Lake Sheriff’s office.) Perdock said months later that Slabaugh’s memory was confused; the speedometer had been in the 9 o’clock position, which would have put the speed at 30 – 35 mph. He later recanted that testimony when he was shown the photographs of the tachometer and speedometer on his boat showing both needles pointing straight up.
      Who’s to Blame?
      The obvious question is how could someone who is at the helm of a sailboat that’s barely moving be held liable in a collision with a high-speed powerboat?
      It didn’t help Bismark Dinius’ case that he had a BAC of .12. In most boating collisions the question of alcohol usually looms large, but in this case it’s almost impossible to imagine how a stone-cold sober Bismark Dinius could have maneuvered the slow-moving sailboat out of harm’s way. As one of the women on the sailboat told a police investigator, “And it was like I saw this boat right there. And I said, ‘we’re going to get hit.’ . . . The next thing I know, POW.”
      Perdock insisted he hadn’t seen any lights on the sailboat. Had he been distracted momentarily? (At 40 mph, a boat travels about 60’ feet per second; at 60 mph it would have been traveling 88 feet per second.) A more likely explanation is that the sailboat’s lights were lost among the bright lights on shore, a well-documented phenomenon (Seaworthy, Vol. 10 No. 2). Perdock acknowledged that he had seen unlighted boats on Clear Lake before and had used the lights on shore to search for darkened silhouettes: “I can use the lighting of the object, like Richmond Park, to help me see other boats or objects on the water that may not be lighted. The lights silhouette the object and I can avoid it."
      His collision-avoidance tactic may or may not have been effective for spotting unlighted boats but it would almost certainly have the reverse effect - tending to camouflage - any boat that was lighted. A much better tactic for avoiding collisions on a dark night, especially when someone admits to having seen unlighted boats on the lake, is to slow down. No less an authority than the U.S. Coast Guard, Nav Rule 6, cites the presence of background light from buildings on shore as one reason a skipper must reduce speed at night.
      When asked why Perdock hadn’t been charged in the accident, the district attorney told Latitude 38 reporter LaDonna Buback, “It’s impossible to prove the speed of a motorboat” and “We can’t prove beyond a reasonable doubt that his speed was the cause of the accident.” One of the expert witnesses, Wes Dodd, disagreed. Dodd is a highly-regarded accident reconstructionist and former law enforcement officer who has investigated over 650 boating accidents. His conclusion: “. . . speed was the primary factor in this collision. In order to ramp the sailboat and cause the amount of damage done, Mr. Perdock would have had to have been going 40+ miles per hour based on my previous experience of vessel accident investigation and witnessing staged vessel accidents.”
      There is no speed limit on Clear Lake. There are, however, federal laws that apply. Dodd noted that Perdock had been in violation of Rule 5 (Lookout), Rule 6 (Safe Speed), Rule 7 (Risk of Collision) Rule 8 (Action to Avoid Collision), Rule 13 (Overtaking), and Rule 25 (Sailing Vessels Underway and Vessels Under Oars). Dodd concluded simply, “Had Mr. Perdock been operating his vessel at a safe prudent speed, this accident could have been avoided.”
      Bismark Dinius
      In their extensive coverage of the case, Latitude 38 editors and television reporter Dan Noyes, have noted that the only thing Bismark Dinius is guilty of is having his hand on the tiller when the sailboat was hit from behind. Even the running lights, if they were off, would be the responsibility of the boat’s skipper. At the preliminary hearing, however, the judge supported the district attorney’s assertion that enough evidence existed for Dinius to stand trial in September for involuntary manslaughter.

      Aside from causing overwhelming mental anguish, the upcoming trial will be hugely expensive. In the earlier civil case against Dinius and Weber, legal and investigative expenses for Dinius alone have been $160,000, all of which were paid by Weber's marine insurance carrier and Mr. Dinius' homeowner's insurance carrier. In the criminal trial, Dinius must pay all of his legal fees and costs, including his experts' trial testimony, out of his own pocket.

      Latitude 38 has established a defense fund for Bismark Dinius: You can assist his legal defense by sending a check made out to Bismarck Dinius, writing "Bismarck Dinius Defense Fund" in the memo section, and mailing it to Sierra Central Credit Union, Attn: Brian Foxworthy, Branch Manager, 306 N. Sunrise Ave., Roseville, CA 95661.
      Many Seaworthy readers have asked about updates to this story. The trial is now underway and the two links below are posting updates. With either link, the quickest way to access articles is to do a Search with the name Bismark Dinius.
      KGO TV in San Francisco:
      Record-Bee, a local newspaper in Clear Lake County:
      Note: The original manslaughter charge was recently changed to Boating Under the Influence. While this may seem like good news, the two charges have almost identical potential jail terms - four years vs. three years.
      If you'd like to post your comments or read what others have posted on the BoatUS Messageboard, just go to:
      You can assist his legal defense by sending a check made out to Bismark Dinius, writing "Bismark Dinius Defense Fund" in the memo section, and mailing it to Sierra Central Credit Union, Attn: Brian Foxworthy, Branch Manager, 306 N. Sunrise Ave., Roseville, CA 95661.


      • #4
        "citing issues from the previous night (when the Wabbit fleet had not yet arrived) and informing attendees that "He could cite all of you and throw you out" was received with wide eyed concern and contemplation"

        I'm certainly not defending the guy but it sounds like he had a bad situation the night before and thought it was the same group. From what little rattling around I've done up there, I don't think they have a very deep talent pool from which to draw for officers.

        If this gets wrongly linked to the Perdock deal and sailors stay away, it will only hurt the club up there. A sensible investigation isn't likely to happen but one can hope, so I'd give this one a little time - unless of course the officer made reference to the Perdock deal while he was strutting around . . .


        • #5
          Barney Fife in action ?


          • #6
            I won't even tow my boat through Clear Mistake County.
            Richard Vilvens
            Brand Ambassador
            PSA Capricorn USA
            F-18 5150


            • #7
              Originally posted by F18 5150 View Post
              I won't even tow my boat through Clear Mistake County.
              Don't they have a billboard at the county line that says something like,

              "Welcome to Lake County, Arrive on Vacation, Leave on Probation"


              • #8


                • #9
                  Later the alleged perp Perdock was appointed to a position on the local Fire Board. I won't visit Lake County again, that's for sure