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News / Clark County News

Man accused of vehicular homicide in fatal Vancouver jet ski crash

By Jessica Prokop, Columbian Local News Editor
Published: October 10, 2022, 12:14pm

A judge ordered a Vancouver man be held on $250,000 bail in connection with a fatal jet ski crash Sunday night in the Columbia River near the Waterfront Vancouver.

Stephen A. Lubeck, 30, appeared Monday morning via Zoom in Clark County Superior Court on suspicion of vehicular homicide and operating a vessel while under the influence.

Authorities say the victim was a 39-year-old woman.

The Vancouver Police Department, Vancouver Fire Department, Clark County Sheriff’s Office and Coast Guard marine units responded at about 7:30 p.m. to the west waterfront area, near the Grant Street Pier, for a report of a boating collision.

Lubeck was riding a jet ski south and the woman was riding a jet ski west on the Columbia River when they collided. The two did not know each other, according to a police news release.

The woman was taken to PeaceHealth Southwest Medical Center, where she died from her injuries, court records state.

According to a probable cause affidavit, a witness, Daniel Bratkov, told police he was wake surfing behind a boat when he saw a man on a jet ski “flying by.” About two minutes later, he saw people flashing their phones toward the boat to get their attention. The boat pulled up to a jet ski, and the rider, Lubeck, said a woman had hit his jet ski; he asked for a ride on the boat.

Bratkov said his boat began looking for the other jet skier. They located a life jacket and a woman facedown in the water. Bratkov’s boat and people on another boat pulled the woman from the water, and a doctor on the other boat started CPR, the affidavit states.

Responding police found Lubeck on a boat dock on the north side of the Columbia River, west of the Interstate 5 Bridge. He said he injured his right hand and left ankle in the crash. He declined medical aid, court records say.

Lubeck told police the woman crashed into him when he turned around near the pier. He said he was doing “donuts” in the water before heading back to Portland, the affidavit states.

Officers noted Lubeck’s speech was slurred, his eyes were red and watery, and there was a strong odor of intoxicants on his breath. Lubeck said he had started drinking around noon at Lemon Island in the Columbia River and had three or four Coors Light beers about an hour before riding the jet ski, according to the affidavit.

A preliminary breath test, taken at about 8:30 p.m., showed he had a blood-alcohol level of 0.091, court records show. In Washington, a blood-alcohol level of 0.08 is considered evidence of drunken driving. His blood was sent to the state crime lab for toxicology results.

In court Monday, the prosecution said Lubeck has criminal history from a 2011 bank robbery, including first-degree robbery, second-degree assault and unlawful imprisonment.

According to Columbian archives, a Vancouver police officer shot Lubeck in the leg after Lubeck robbed a Wells Fargo Bank and pointed what appeared to be a semiautomatic pistol at the officer. The pistol was later determined to be a BB gun.

The prosecution also said Lubeck’s criminal history includes a 2016 attempting to elude in Oregon; 2022 first-degree negligent driving, amended from a DUI, in Washington; and 2016 and 2015 reckless driving in Oregon and Washington.

He is scheduled to be arraigned in this case Oct. 21.