NEWPORT BEACH, Calif. (KSWB) – A man from San Diego was arrested Thursday on suspicion of stealing a yacht and crashing multiple times as he tried to escape, officials said.
The theft happened around 10 a.m. at the harbor in Newport Beach, a spokesperson for Orange County Sheriff’s Department told Nexstar’s KSWB. Deputies with the Harbor Patrol unit were sent to stop the man after reports that he commandeered a 60-foot yacht.
Over the course of a few minutes, the man hit a sailboat and at least one other vessel before colliding with a seawall near a bridge, the sheriff’s department confirmed.
Dylan Eckardt, who works nearby, took video of the wild joyride.
“I realized that it was a man doing ‘donuts’ in a boat,” Eckardt told KTLA. “(He) ran over the sailboat and then a woman was in the back of the sailboat screaming. So my first reaction was to make sure the woman was OK.”
Debora Dolly, the woman aboard that boat, told the Associated Press she was knocked down by the collision but not seriously hurt.
After slamming into the sailboat, the stolen yacht jets across the bay, eventually colliding with another boat and slamming into the seawall, as seen in video recorded, Tareq Risheq, another witness. A short time later, officials boarded the vessel and took the man into custody.
“I saw the guy freaking out, and actually he was screaming, he was hurt, and he was lying down,” Risheq told KTLA. “And then the Harbor Patrol and the Coast Guard and the sheriff, they all came and surrounded him.”
Joel Siam, a 38-year-old from San Diego, was taken to jail by the Newport Beach Police Department, the sheriff’s official said. According to the AP, he was suspected of grand theft of a boat and possession of a stolen boat and was jailed on $3 million bail.
The yacht had been in-dock for maintenance and the keys were inside at the time it was taken, officials told the AP.
While the sheriff’s department said Harbor Patrol only got involved once the boat was stolen, police had already been in the area searching for Siam before he hopped aboard. He was originally reported to be vandalizing cars on a street nearby, KTLA reports.