Todd Iwamoto Killed in California Delta boat accident

Todd Iwamoto

Todd Iwamoto

Todd Iwamoto, 40 of Mountain Home California, and his fishing partner (S.G.) were fishing in the BBT Delta/Wine – Delta bass tournament on the Sacramento-San Joaquin River Delta on Old River near Brentwood, California on Saturday 19 April 2014.

Their Ranger bass boat powered by what appears to be a Mercury Marine outboard motor is thought to have struck a submerged object about 11:30 am near a rail road bridge close to Cruiser Haven Marina. The outboard motor broke loose from the boat during the impact, both men were ejected from the boat. The boat is thought to have continued on and lightly struck the BSF Railway railroad bridge. The boat operator was pulled from the water from the water 10 to 15 minutes later, but no sign was found of Todd Iwamoto.

Authorities, divers, and a Coast Guard helicopter searched for his body. Also responding were American Medical Response (AMR), Knightsen Fire Department, Oakley Police, and the Contra Costa County Sheriff. California Highway Patrol also provided aerial support. About 40 minutes into the search and rescue operation it was changed to a recovery operation. Todd Iwatoma’s body was found about 5.5 hours later at 5 pm.

His fishing partner received minor injuries and was treated at the scene.

Mr. Iwamotos’s full name is Todd Mitsuharu Iwamoto. says Mr. Iwatoma was the passenger and the other gentleman was the boat operator.

Both men were wearing life jackets. Some have speculated that Todd Iwamoto’s life jacket may have been an inflatable and may not have fired / inflated. Others have suggested he may have worn an inflatable that was cut by the motor or propeller. The authorities have not issued a statement as to the status of his life jacket or as to any wounds on his body.

The boat was an 18 foot Ranger boat, it appears to be 188VX Ranger bass boat in the photo below, but the numbers are a bit hard to read. The two images of Todd’s boat on this page are cropped and enhanced from images published by East County Today on April 19th.

Todd Iwamoto's boat

Todd Iwamoto’s boat

Ranger boat was thought to have hit something at about 50 mph, some suggest it may have hit a submerged log or a sand dune.

Transom of Todd Iwamoto's boat

Transom of Todd Iwamoto’s boat

This image of the transom shows what appears to be a portion of a Mercury outboard motor swivel plate and the power-tilt unit (PTU) still attached to the jack plate. While this is a side view, we suspect a rear view would look a lot like this rear from the Rex Chambers accident that happened just a few weeks later at a bass tournament in Alabama.

Rex Chambers' Mercury Marine outboard broken swivel plate

NOTE this is the swivel plate rear view from the Rex Chambers accident

The Sheriff’s Marine Patrol officials said that area is dangerous as boats are launched into a narrow busy waterway there. They recall at least two fatal accidents there in 2009, and more recent injury accidents per a report in the Contra Coast Times.

The accident was discussed in some bass forums (like BBC) where locals said they thought the boat only drifted into the bridge after the outboard broke off. The outboard motor was said to have remained attached by the cables as is often the case. One reports the drivers vest was an inflatable and did activate. One suggests the motor may have hit a deadhead (vertically floating log).

Some forums suggest the motor hit Iwamoto in the water.

We covered this accident to continue to bring focus to the issue of large outboard motors striking submerged objects, breaking off boats, flipping in, and striking people with their still rotating propellers. While this outboard may have broken off and remained in the water, it shares many characteristics with those that flip into the boat.

The forums say Todd Iwamoto left behind a wife and two young children. A fund raising effort to is underway at Give Forward. Funds are being raised to establish a college fund for his children.

Our Previous Coverage of Outboard Motors Breaking Off Boats

We have previously extensively covered outboard motors breaking off boats and log strike testing (testing the systems that are supposed to prevent them from breaking off) at:

Additional Reference:

Bassmaster reports a somewhat similar accident in which a bass boat in a fishing tournament struck a submerged object, the motor broke off and may not have entered the boat, both people were ejected, one was seriously injured.

by Steve Bowman.
26 August 2009.

Accident on day 1 of Genuity River Rumble for Elite Anglers. Jerry Van Sickle, the Marshall for angler Derek Remitz was thrown into the vegetation face down and passed out. The accident happened as many competitors were passing through the same area (a backwater lake in Pool 18 on the Mississippi River) and dozens stopped to help.

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