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Gus Colgain

As I understand it, any vessel UNDER SAIL has the absolute right of way, and powered vessels are required to give them room, and if coming up from astern pass them at a safe distance on the starboard side. A powerboat running into them from astern would automatically be in the wrong.
In addition, a powerboat doing 50 miles an hour would have it's bow high out of the water, making it hard, if not impossible, to see directly in front of the vessel, thereby obscuring the sailing vessel from whomever was skippering the powerboat.

If I am correct in this, then it is a open and shut case. The deputy violated every rule of the sea and thereby is guilty of, at the very least, manslaughter.

jude thomsen

Have you ever been to a funeral where each and every person feels like Lynn Thorton was their best friend with over 500 in attendance. Have you ever been around someone who sparkles and giggles for every time you ever see their face? Have you ever lost someone so dear you can't get over it? Have you ever thought you have known earths angel? Lynn was all that and more. She loved life and loved sharing her home, time and never forgotten she is so sadly missed. My Dad said there are millions of people you will never know and then there are the ones you know you will never forget. Thanks for the excellence in investigation journalism Dan Noyes. You bring a fresh honesty so rare to your profession.


sounds stinky to me


Too bad you could not find out where Russ Perdock (and the people in his boat) were before the accident. This might answer some questions in peoples minds about whether he was drinking or not. It is just a thought. Richmond Park.

Bill Cosbie

I'm a Marine surveyor and have perfromed investigations in that area. First lets just look at 3 of the 72 COLREGS (Federal inland water regulations)
Rule 5 Lookout: "Every vessel shall at all times maintain a proper lookout by sight and hearing as well as all available means appropriate in the prevailing circumstances and conditions so as to make a full appraisal of the situation and of the risk of collision." Clearly the officer did not do this!

Second Rule 6 Safe Speed: "Every vessel shall at ALL TIMES proceed at a safe speed so that she can take proper and effective action to avoid collision and be STOPPED within a distance appropriate to the prevailing circumstances and conditions." Operating a boat at night that fast would not allow you to stop it in a distance that you can see.

And of course Rule 18 Responsibilites Between Vessels: "A power driven vessel underway shall keep out of the way of A SAILING vessel at all times."
These are the rule numbers, both are state and federal law. There are even more I could throw at that officer, but these are the main ones that were not ever even brought up.
This is such a extreme example of Police/DA corruption It feels just like the Duke Lacross incident, but even worse. How can it even get this far?? It looks ridiculous.

Lucinda Liebler

I am Lynn's niece and I also lived with her for several years. Your report was the first time I had acually saw the boat after the accident. Word cannot express how it felt . . . I have been on the boat with Lynn and Mark several times. With no boating experience at all, I was even asked to hold the rudder straight while they brought up the sail. I could have easily been in Bismark's place. Would the DA have prosacuted me? Charged me for my aunt's death?
I haven't been able to focus on who's to blame this past year. I was just trying to get though my first May, June, July, etc without her. But now that I have seen your report, I'm angry! Why can't Perdock admit to what he did? How long is he going to let other people take the blame for his mistake? Shame on all the officers and the DA who are helping him cover this up.
I was there the night Lynn was flown in to the hospital. I held her hand while she just laid there in bed and there was nothing I could do to wake her up. I hope all those involved see that flash in their minds every time they say another carefully crafted lie to protect someone who is not worth protecting.
Thank you, Dan Noyes, for bringing this injustice to light. It means so much to our family!


Almost a repeat of several years ago. The same type of accident only instead of a sheriff it was the son of the sheriff deputy. The sheriffs son drove into another boat (cookie man's son's boat AKA Al Andersen's son and if it wasn't for a smart insurance investigator his son would of been convicted for sure. THE SHERIFFS OFFICE BLAMED AL'S SON INSTEAD OF THE ONE WHO CAUSED THE LOSS OF LIFE, THE SHERIFFS SON.
Also, don't know if this is important...ask how they check their PAS machines...they should be calibrated with a standard solution with date and lot number. SRDOJ stated only used lot number. THE DA HERE DOESN'T MAKE SENSE.

Bill Cosbie

I forgot another inportant Rule 13 Overtaking: "Any vessel overtaking any other vessel shall keep out of way of the vessel being overtaken. A vessel shall be deemed to be overtaken when coming up with another vessel from a direction more than 22.5 degrees abaft her beam" It is clear to me from the pics that the this was the case. Anyone in our field could easily reconstruct and prove that along with an accurate speed of the officers boat.


I seem to remember the first reports in the local newspaper the Record Bee said there were passengers in the Perdock boat. Someone needs to look back and see who they were. I believe there were minors in the boat. Perhaps Perdocks relatives. What can be found out about who was with him???


I was at the sail boat races that day and into the evening. I met all people on board the sailboat. lynn was such a beautiful person inside and out. we sang kareoke together, then Dinius asked myself and a friend if we wanted to go out on the sailboat and cruise around? I said oh no, I don't like to go out in boats at night on this lake it can be dangerous. I walked outside when everyone was leaving. I saw them take off and they did have their running lights on. A investigator contacted me a couple of days later and asked me some questions about the people on the boat and the boat itself. One of the questions were did the boat have lights on when you saw it? I told him yes it did. I have never heard anything more from anybody regarding this. Dinius you do not deserve this at all, I'm behind you all the way. good luck to you.

Bill Cosbie

There is a way to inspect the boat and tell if the lights were on at the time of impact.

Lake County Friend

Dear Dan Noyes, Bless your heart! Thank you for your hard work on this very important story as well as the issue of these guys covering for each other. Thank you very much!! And keep up the hard work, you are a rare bird and a model for other in your profession! Thanks from the bottom of my heart!

public offended

Jon Hopkins is not doing his job. What is his job? All any person has to do is look at the wreckage of the sail boat to see SPEED did this. Russ Perdock is a coward and not a stand up person who should post himself as Under Sheriff? He should not post himself as anyone in public with a tidal that says he protects the innocent, and is capable of arresting someone for crimes. He himself is a criminal hiding behind the badge he wears. He is a utter disaster to the Lake county and if you will note this: Lynn Thornton was a peace officer who protected the innocent for nearly 30 years. He acts like he hit an unlit log in the water. His comment he was not disobeying any law going 45 and plus miles on the water that night by his own admission should have warranted charges. Jon Hopkins trying to protect and preserve the laws is a joke. He should be charged as well for conducting himself as a fool with a responsible to uphold the law. Give this case back to the real defenders of law? The state attorney. Thanks Dan Noyes for shedding light where they say there was none.

born, raised and raising family in Lake County

This is not the first time in Lake County that an off duty officer of the sherriff's department has fatally injured a private citizen. In the 1990's a young man whos name was Zane Kazaka, was killed while riding as a passenger on the back of a scooter. I believe in this instance the responsible party actually left the scene and returned only after she had called another deputy.

Clear Lake Home Owner

Interesting story. Even if a bit skewed against the sheriff. I am surprised that Dan Noyes let the skipper of the sailboat off so easily. Why not pointedly question him about his sobriety? Why not discuss the serious problem of boating while under the influence?
As an owner of a vacation home on Clear Lake I can tell you that the number of times I have seen a boat on Clear Lake without running lights is significant, almost as significant is the number of speeders. And there have been times when I've really wondered if the driver of a boat had been drinking. I can't even count the number of boats that come way too close to our dock. But with all of that said. Clear Lake is a safe and delightful lake, that is professionally patrolled by the Lake County Sheriff's Dept.
By the way, a powerboat going 50 would not necessarily have it's bow out of the water.

Gus Colgain

I don't think the sobriety of the helmsman of the sailing vessel has any direct connection to this case. Consider, if a motor vehicle accident, the driver that slams in to the rearend of another car is automatically presumed to be in the wrong. A car doing 50 miles an hour slamming into a car doing 5 miles an hour indicates someone was not paying attention to the road ahead.
The gentleman who gave you the rules of waterways has it right. I don't care if the skipper of the sailing boat was falling down drunk - the powerboat disobeyed ever rule in the book and if this were maritime law, he would have his rank stripped away and be held liable to federal law.
Personally, I think the State Attorney General should investigate this case and if he finds a coverup by the DA and the Sheriffs Department, use his authority to strip them of their power.

Lakeport and Lake County Resident 4yrs

In lake county there is corruption in all police services, Clearlake police, Lakeport police and the Sheriff department. And what Dinius says is very correct about a good old boys network. It is very prevelant up here in Lake County. But also unfortunately it involves the judges too (alcoholics with ankle bracelets). I heard judges turn down very valid requests and arguments from defense attorneys. For Dinius sake I hope he gets this case moved. Because the sheriff can't take the blame for this. An the DA has already has flat out lied to us all about there being no witnesses. It is about time Lake County Officials are shown for who they really are. I have drove my boat on this lake at night without the moon and you might as well be driving blind. It is scary. 10mph max. His sober judgment was thrown out the door when he picked up his first drink that night. But the DUI test time will change again since everyone saw Perdock at 11:30pm. Wait to see next Addendum. Evidence and statements seems to disappear at trials around here. This is Dukes of Hazard County Ten Fold. And Hopkins is Boss Hog. Rodney is Cleatus and Perdock well he is the next Sheriff of Lake County. THanks for shinning the light Noyes.

Susan Fascitelli

Thank you Dan Noyes for bringing this story into the light. It has been such a long year of waiting for the correct information to come out. Without this story, the DA's office and Mr. Perdock might just have gotten away with murder. I can now hope the true story will unfold and justice will be served. My dear cousin Lynn will still be gone from us, but it does help to know the man responsible is one step closer to paying for his neglect. Shame on you Mr. Perdock. You are a coward of a man. Your actions this last year shows your total lack of integrity. And shame on the DA's office for covering for him. How can you live with yourselves?

Lee Brown

Somebody please contact Dateline NBC. I think national attention is needed to pressure the local DA to do the right thing.

Or, maybe we need the CA attorney general to step in.

Valarie Surryhne

I have been on Clearlake day and night. I have seen boats out on the lake at night going faster than 5 miles an hour. Everyone who owns a boat or operates a boat should know the rules of the road for boating. The rules are you can not be out on the water at night with out running lights (ON) and the speed at night is always 5 miles an hour. This Sheriff and the DA knows that the speed limit on any body of water at night for a boat is 5 miles an hour. To think that 40 to 50 miles an hour at night is safe is a stupid thing to do. Over 5 miles an hour at night on the lake is breaking the law. The DMV has a booklet that you can order for the proper way to drive a boat. There are even videos and classes for you to take on driving a boat.

South Paw

I encourage everyone to send a message to the State Attorney Generals Office to open an investigation into this matter. If there is nothing to hide then the Lake County DA and Sheriff Department should be very open and willing to an investigating.

Tracian Gibson

The former DA Gary Luck, who started this case, and the DA's investigator, and Russ Perdock are all members of the same Masonic Lodge. There are many excellent officers on the Sheriff's department, but sadly they are lost in the quagmire of incidents such as this, many people in Lake County can verify that for the most part the Lake County DA's office and 'Higher UPS' in the Sheriff's do little to no investigation on any cases they acquire, rather they take a few cherry picked statements and attempt to make a case ignoring any and all evidence to the contrary...this of course not only makes 'justice'in Lake County an oxymoron, but it also proves that it is not the 'evidence' or the desire to serve the citizens, but to protect and serve those that are deeply entwined in the Good ol' boy Infrastructure. We need the Attorney General as well as national media coverage (though Dan has done a great job) to force an 'operation clean sweep' to fix this county.

After seeing this report, it begs the question as to how many innocent people have been railroaded by such shoddy investigations.

Prayers to Lynn's family for justice.

"May Justice be served though the Heaven's fall"

Been Here A Long Time

This case does need State and National attention as do other cases in the lake County Court System that involve members of the law inforcement and their families. The average citizen has no change against any of the good old boys or their families in court in Lake County. There is another case involving the Perdock family in the court system that needs to be addresed also.Many people here are afraid of the officers of the law and afraid to speak up against them. I am very happy to see so many people write to this blog. Thank you Mr. Noyes for looking into Lake County the forgotten place.

Tracian Gibson

Here is a link for more information on this story...our local paper seems to leave out some aspects of this case:


Lake County Resident

Ok, so the people on the sail boat had been drinking, but would all this have happened if their boat had not been plowed into by Perdock? I think he should be held responsible in someway for his actions. I know of a few incidents involving sheriff's department personnel where they should have lost their jobs, but they all seem to get promotions for their wrong doing. What is wrong with this picture???

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