December 5, 2012 | Back to: Opinion

Wrongful death suit filed in fatal boat crash

Citing the “shock and horror” of watching his wife and child die in a boat crash, a Penn Valley man has filed a wrongful death suit against the man investigators said was drunk at the time of the crash.

Paul Peterlin was injured and his wife, Cynthia, and 12-year-old daughter, Sophie, were killed Sept. 15 on Englebright Lake when their boat was struck by another motorboat piloted by Jeffrey Joel Sandow, authorities said.

“This was a horrific crash, a real tragedy,” said Philip Aman, a San Diego-based attorney representing Peterlin.

Sandow, 53, of Auburn, was arrested on suspicion of two felony counts of vehicular manslaughter. He posted a $100,000 bail bond and was later released.

Yuba County Sheriff’s deputies said Sandow was intoxicated.

Sandow was not injured in the crash, investigators said.

According to the wrongful death suit, filed Nov. 29, Sandow “had a heavy odor of an alcoholic beverage on his person and breath, bloodshot eyes and slurred speech …”

Authorities have not commented on Sandow’s suspected blood-alcohol level.

Peterlin was also injured in the crash. Aman declined to comment on the nature of Peterlin’s injuries, except to call them “severe.” Peterlin has “some permanent disability,” according to the suit.

“He’s been released from the hospital but is still in the process of recovering,” Aman said.

The criminal case remains under investigation, and
formal charges have not been filed against Sandow, officials said.

Sandow did not return phone calls Wednesday seeking comment.

He has not filed a response to the complaint, according to court records.

The suit seeks unspecified damages for funeral costs and medical bills, as well as general, punitive and property damages for the infliction of emotional suffering and anguish.

Peterlin and his sons, Brock, 18, and Alek, 15, are the listed plaintiffs in the suit.

The suit accuses Sandow of piloting the boat while intoxicated, demonstrating “a conscious and deliberate disregard for the rights and safety of others.”

Aman declined to comment on specific aspects of the case but did say his office hopes to examine physical evidence, including the two boats involved in the crash.

“They (sheriff’s deputies)
are still holding the boats pending their investigation,” Aman said.

First appearances in the civil case are scheduled for April 2 in Yuba County Superior Court.

Rob Parsons is a reporter with the Marysville Appeal-Democrat. Contact him at rparsons@appealdemocrat.com or 749-4785.

Rob Parsons
Special to The Union


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The Union Updated Jul 19, 2013 02:33PM Published Dec 8, 2012 08:51AM Copyright 2012 The Union. All rights reserved. This material may not be published, broadcast, rewritten or redistributed.