Sometimes in an investigation, there’s just so much to say, you could easily fill an hour on television. This is the case with our reports on a fatal boat crash in Lake County last year and whether the wrong man is now facing charges.
I want to tell you more about the main victim. 51 year-old Lynn Thornton had just retired as chief investigator for the State Dental Board -- she hadn’t even received her first check.
One of her co-workers wrote to us, “Lynn was a dedicated peace officer for the State of California for nearly 30 years. She believed in the justice system and everything it stood for. As an Investigator for the Department of Consumer Affairs she excelled and was driven to protect the people of California.”
To Mark Weber, the owner of the sailboat, Lynn was his future. The two met on a blind date – they were set up by friends who thought they were a great match. Mark and Lynn were engaged at the time of the crash April 29th, 2006. Weber tells me now, “It’s very difficult to deal with, you know, plans you had for the rest of your life are gone, the person you planned on spending the next 30 years with are gone.”
What we didn’t have a chance to report is that Lynn’s 24 year-old nephew from Texas had a kidney disease, and happened to go into kidney failure the day before the accident. Lynn was a registered organ donor who often talked about donating to her nephew. Lynn’s brother e-mailed us today to say his son received one of Lynn’s kidneys May 4th of last year and is doing fine: “Several other organs of Lynn's were donated to other recipients. Losing Lynn was a terrible tragedy and I would give anything if we could have her back with us, but the fact that she was able to give life to (my son) and others give some comfort and is also a testament to the kind, loving, and generous person Lynn was. Mark remarked in the report that ‘she was an angel’ and she truly was. Lynn was dearly loved by all her family, friends, and co-workers.”
We’re receiving many phone calls and e-mails on our first report – the second airs tonight at 6pm. Here’s a sample:
Lake County Resident: “Your segment touched on the good old boys lifestyle here in Lake County. They really protect their own. It was nice to see someone finally listens to what is happening here in Lake County. Most people here are afraid to say anything. I guess it is the same in a lot of other places. It is a shame people do not even stick up for their neighbors any more. Our justice system is getting off track.”
Viewer: “I saw your report last night on the Lynn Thornton tragedy. Excellent! I can't believe that D.A. It's a wonder he can find his way home each day with those blinders he has.”
Lynn Thornton’s Friend: “That was a great story on Lynn's death. I was ‘one’ of Lynn' s many best friends. Not only best friends but co-workers for about 10 years plus. How can that D.A. say the running lights were not on? That is an out right lie. How can Jon Hopkins say, 'I don't know' if Lynn would have died if Perdock's boat was going at a safe speed? I myself will get on the same sail boat and hit me at 5 mph, which is safe speed and I bet Hopkins I won't even get a bruise much less dying.”
Northern California Boater: “As for that night regarding lights being on or off etc. I've seen the lake on dark nights and my biggest issue with this whole thing is with all of the lights around the shores of this lake - add smooth water reflecting lights - the small running lights on any boat would be very difficult to make out especially at the high speeds the Sheriff was operating his boat. If the high speed runs at night were common place for the Sheriff it is amazing he hasn't killed anyone else. If he had struck a log or some other object and killed one of his own passengers this whole thing would be very different. If he had struck an anchored sailboat this whole case would be very different. Instead he hit a sailboat which was probably going slower than 5mph. As for a sailboat being able to avoid a high speed boat approaching from behind or for that matter spot them with enough time to do something is a whole other thing. Which is why all vessels aproaching another vessel from behind are the responsible party for keeping clear of the vessel they are approaching.”
What’s your take? Watch our reports, view the slide show, and post your comments here.