Manslaughter charges reduced against man involved in fatal boating crash

Crime Watch

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Michael Kingston | Bonneville County Jail

IDAHO FALLS — A local man charged with the deaths of two people after a boating accident appeared in court Wednesday.

Michael Kingston, 63, was originally charged with two counts of felony involuntary manslaughter – a charge that carries a maximum of 15 years in prison and $10,000 fine. Both charges were reduced to misdemeanor negligent operation of a boat as part of a plea agreement.

Kingston, Elaine Jenkins, 65, and Edwin Jenkins, 68, were boating at Blacktail Park on the Ririe Reservoir Aug. 21 when the boat crashed, resulting in the death of both Elaine and Edwin.

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 officers 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.

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.

A change of plea hearing is scheduled for March 30 in Bonneville County.