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Man charged with manslaughter following eclipse day boating crash


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Michael Allen Kingston | Bonneville County Jail

IDAHO FALLS — On Aug. 21, people from around the world gathered in eastern Idaho to watch and celebrate the totality of the Great American Eclipse.

But for a group of boaters, the day turned to tragedy and the lone survivor is being charged with the other’s deaths.

Michael Kingston, 63, Elaine Jenkins, 65, and Edwin Jenkins, 68, were boating at Blacktail Park on the Ririe Reservoir when the boat crashed resulting in Elaine’s and Edwin’s deaths. Kingston has been charged with two counts of involuntary manslaughter for negligently operating a vehicle.

RELATED: Person killed, 2 injured in boating accident at Ririe Reservoir

According to court documents, police responded to a 911 call of a boat spinning out of control and multiple people in the water. By the time police arrived all three people had been pulled out of the water.

Witnesses said they saw the boat traveling at excessive speeds before seeing it suddenly turn sharp and crash ejecting the occupants. One witness said they saw the boat run the occupants over. Police were able to recover a video that showed the boat traveling at an estimated 60 mph and above.

Kingston told police he thought he had been traveling across the reservoir at 80 mph, before the crash. He said he hit the “perfect set of waves” sideways causing the boat to crash. He said he had made that kind of turn while traveling at high speeds before.

According to the Idaho Safe Boating Act, it is illegal to operate a boat “at a speed or under conditions that cause any damage to or affects the safety of other vessels, docks, shoreline installations or any other property or person.”

All three were ejected from the boat. Kingston was not wearing a safety lanyard and none of the occupants were wearing life jackets.

Kingston was hit by the boat and propeller causing trauma to his right leg. Edwin reportedly drowned due to an inability to swim because of a recent hip replacement. Both were taken to Eastern Idaho Regional Medical Center. Kingston was released and Edwin was declared dead. Elaine was hit by both the boat and propeller causing trauma to her hips, chest and neck. She died at the scene.

Kingston was arrested on Feb. 16, and posted his $10,000 bond shortly after. Involuntary manslaughter carries a maximum punishment of 10 years in prison and a $10,000 fine.

He is scheduled to appear in court on March 7.