The mixed martial arts community lost one of its most beloved members earlier today. Charles Lewis, also known as Mask from Tapout, died earlier this morning in a horrific car crash in Newport Beach, California. From The LA Times:
A bizarre car crash in Newport Beach involving two luxury cars early this morning left one person dead, a second injured, a third arrested for gross vehicular manslaughter and a fourth person was detained by police long enough to sober up.
An acquaintance of the victim identified him as Charles “Mask” Lewis, co-founder of the mixed-martial-arts apparel company TapouT, which also sponsors fighters. He was pronounced dead at the scene.
A Newport Beach Police Department officer who witnessed the wreck and saw a red Ferrari and a white Porsche “spinning out of control” on Jamboree Road between Bison Avenue and East Bluff Drive at 12:57 a.m., Newport Beach Lt. Craig Fox said. The Ferrari “hit the curb and then collided with a pole.” The Porsche came to a stop at the scene for a few seconds and then sped away, Fox said.
“It was terrible. It was extensive damage to the vehicle,” Fox said, adding that the Ferrari appeared to have split in half.
MMA Junkie adds that there was a female in the car with Lewis, however, she was ejected from the car, and is currently in the hospital in stable condition. Also, the driver of the Porsche, Jeffrey David Kirby, has been arrested for gross vehicular manslaughter, and is being held on $1 million bail.
Leaving the Porsche were 51-year-old Jeffrey David Kirby of Costa Mesa and 32-year-old Lynn Marie Nabozny of Newport Beach, who were both detained.
“Through their investigation, [police officers] were able to determine the male was the driver of the Porsche,” Lt. Fox said. “He was arrested for gross vehicular manslaughter while intoxicated. He was booked … on a $1 million bail.”
Nabozny was arrested for public intoxication and later released.
“There were skid marks found at the scene,” said Lt. Fox, who confirmed investigators were still sifting through the crash scene as of noon PST today. “It appears there were maybe high rates of speed involved, but they don’t know what led up to the collision. The officer (who witnessed the crash) didn’t see that. He barely saw the after effects of what appears to be the possible collision.”
This is incredibly saddening news. Mask, and the rest of the Tapout family, have made huge contributions to the sport of mixed martial arts, the fighters and the fans. He will be sorely missed. Our sincerest condolences go out to all of Lewis’ family and friends for their loss.
Tapout has released an official statement via their website:
DEAREST FRIENDS AND FAMILY
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-wishes during this incredibly difficult time.