Hudson Sangree /

Authorities continue to search for four men missing after a speedboat wreck that happened Saturday on Folsom Lake.

Fourth man believed dead in Folsom Lake speedboat wreck

Published: Sunday, May. 11, 2014 - 9:12 pm
Last Modified: Friday, May. 16, 2014 - 5:55 pm

A fourth man was on a speedboat that capsized in Folsom Lake on Saturday afternoon and is likely dead, authorities said, making the crash one of the deadliest in the lake’s history.

Efforts to find the men turned up nothing Sunday. Officials called off the search in the early afternoon because of high winds.

State Parks officials identified the men as Toby Strauch, 54; James Strauch, 47; Jake Jacobs, 53; and Jon Smith, 48. Authorities said that all lived in the Sacramento region but did not specify their hometowns.

Investigators aren’t sure what caused the accident. When park rangers arrived at about 1:45 p.m. Saturday, they found a 40-foot speedboat capsized. They’ve been searching for the men ever since. Determining the cause of the accident has been a secondary priority, said Folsom Lake State Recreation Area Superintendent Richard Preston.

Witnesses initially said three men were on the boat, but authorities later confirmed the boat had four passengers.

Officials now seek to recover, instead of rescue.

“This is probably the single most fatalities in my time doing this,” Preston said, who has worked at the lake more than 10 years.

Boating accidents happen frequently on Folsom Lake, but deaths are rare. About 30 accidents occurred in 2011 and 2012 at Folsom Lake, according to the latest state data, with 25 injuries and one death.

More than 25 rangers, emergency workers and divers scoured the lake for the men Sunday, the second consecutive day when wind hampered their efforts.

Whitecaps chopped the surface of Folsom Lake as teams struggled to hold their boats steady enough to search for the missing men. The craft used anchors weighing as much as 60 pounds, and were still unable to hold their positions.

“The high winds make it difficult to keep our search going,” Preston said.

The lake remained open to the public Sunday afternoon, and several families braved the winds within sight of the rescue staging area near the park’s Douglas Road entrance in Granite Bay.

The park is set to remain open Monday, when the search will resume with help from the El Dorado County and Placer County sheriff’s departments, the California Highway Patrol and the Sacramento County Drowning Accident Rescue Team.

Asked if any lessons could yet be learned from the accident, Preston said, “Always wear life jackets.” Life jackets are recommended but not mandatory for adult boat riders on Folsom Lake. It is not clear, Preston said, whether the four men wore them.

Call The Bee’s Phillip Reese, (916) 321-1137.

Read more articles by Phillip Reese

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