Crash victim identified as founder of TapouT clothing line

March 11, 2009|By Joseph Serna

Charles “Mask” Lewis, a Huntington Beach man and co-founder of clothing label TapouT, popular among mixed-martial arts fans, was identified as the driver of a Ferrari involved in what authorities say appears to be a high-speed fatal crash this morning in Newport Beach that left the car cracked in half.

Representatives from TapouT released this statement:

“It is with heavy hearts and great sadness that we must regretfully confirm the passing of our beloved friend, brother and co-founder Charles “Mask” Lewis following a car accident that occurred last night. We are currently in the process of setting up a memorial service in his honor and will release more details as they become available. Many thanks to all for the outpouring of blessings and well-wishing during this incredibly difficult time. – The TapouT Family.”

The Orange County Sheriff-Coroner has declined to confirm Lewis as the driver until his family could be notified. Lewis was driving a 2004 red Ferrari that split in two after smashing into a light pole on Jamboree Road south of Eastbluff Drive North.


Police said Lewis’ car collided with another car before losing control. The driver of that car, a 1977 Porsche 911 Targa, was arrested on suspicion of vehicular manslaughter while intoxicated.

Police identified the Porsche driver as Jeffrey Kirby, 51. His bail has been doubled to $2 million by authorities at the request of Newport Beach police after he was arrested this morning allegedly seen leaving the area of the crash. Court records show Kirby pleaded guilty to a DUI in February 2002.

Police would not rule out speed and alcohol as possible factors that led to the crash.

Just before 1 a.m. police spotted two sports cars, a 2004 red Ferrari 360 Modena, and a white 1977 Porsche 911 Targa, out of control on southbound Jamboree Road between Eastbluff Drive North and Bison Avenue.

“Skid marks at the scene indicate they were traveling at a high rate of speed,” Lt. Craig Fox said, adding an officer traveling the opposite way saw the Ferrari, a car worth $150,000 with a V8 engine and top speed of nearly 200 mph, out of control next to the Porsche when it jumped onto the curb and slammed into a light pole, splitting in half and killing the driver.

The front and rear ends of the car were about 30 feet away from each other, fire department officials said. Police said Kirby, the Porsche’s driver, stopped briefly, then continued on, Fox said. Officers rushing to the area spotted Kirby and his passenger, 32-year-old Lynn Nabozny of Newport Beach, walking away from the Porsche after they parked it on Bison Avenue, not far away from the crash, authorities said.

Police arrested Kirby on suspicion of vehicular manslaughter while intoxicated and are holding him in Newport Beach jail in lieu of $2 million bail. Nabozny was arrested for public intoxication and was released at 7:45 a.m. after sobering up, police said.

The Porsche had moderate damage to its side consistent with colliding with the Ferrari before the crash, officials said.

An unidentified female was thrown from Lewis’ car and taken to Western Medical Center in Santa Ana and but her injuries are not considered life-threatening, police said.

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