Two Dead As Speeding Inflatable Hits Bridge

Two men were killed and another seriously injured after an inflatable boat crashed into a bridge in Huntington Harbour early Saturday, officials said.

The operator of the 12-foot Zodiac-style boat was seen doing "doughnuts" shortly before it hit the Gilbert Drive bridge in the waterfront community about 12:50 a.m., said Jeff Lopez of the Huntington Beach Fire Department.

A 37-year-old man, possibly the driver, managed to swim to shore and was taken to UC Irvine Medical Center with serious head trauma, said sheriff's spokesman Jim Amormino.

A 35-year-old Huntington Beach man was found by arriving rescue teams and died at the scene, Amormino said.

A third boater was initially missing and the Orange County Sheriff's Department dive team arrived about 4 a.m. to help Huntington Beach and other sheriff's personnel in the search.

The search ended at 9 a.m., when a 32-year-old Huntington Beach resident was found dead, said sheriff's Lt. Ted Boyne.

The names of both of the deceased were withheld pending notification of their next of kin.

Amormino said alcohol may have been a factor in the crash. Law enforcement personnel have towed and impounded the boat as part of their criminal investigation.

Lopez originally said that the surviving man was the driver of the boat, but Amormino said investigators suspected, but had not confirmed that was the case. No arrest had been made as of noon Saturday.

The U.S. Coast Guard and other law enforcement agencies are out in force this weekend as part of "Operation Dry Water," an attempt to discourage drunken boating.

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