Update: Driver Charged with Manslaughter in ‘Tapout’ Founder’s Death
The man arrested on Wednesday in connection with the death of
“Tapout” founder Charles “Mask” Lewis Jr., has been formally
charged with vehicular manslaughter after a brutal crash left the
clothing company entrepreneur’s Ferrari ripped in half by a cement
pole in Newport Beach, Calif.
Jeffrey D. Kirby, 51, of Costa Mesa, Calif., has been charged with
“one felony count of vehicular manslaughter by unlawful act with
gross negligence while intoxicated, one felony count of driving
under the influence causing bodily injury, and sentencing
enhancements for fleeing the scene of a vehicular manslaughter and
causing great bodily injury to multiple victims,” according to a
press release from the Orange County District Attorney’s
Kirby, who has a prior 2002 conviction for driving under the
influence, faces a maximum sentence of 19 years and eight months if
Kirby's arraignment was continued to March 27 at the defense's
request on Friday afternoon at the Harbor Justice Center in Newport
Beach, Calif. His bail was re-set from $2 million to $500,000 with
the condition that Kirby can't drive or consume alcohol.
Lewis’ red Ferrari and Kirby’s white Porsche were observed
traveling alongside one another in the same direction on the
three-lane Jamboree Road around 1 a.m. PST on Wednesday morning,
according to a Newport Beach police officer who was traveling in
the opposite direction and witnessed the crash.
“Kirby is accused of speeding alongside a 2004 Ferrari…,” read the
release, “… [and] is accused of losing control of his car due to
his unsafe speed and crashing into Lewis’ vehicle,” which caused
Lewis to lose control of his vehicle and collide with a cement
The Newport Beach Police Dept. has not depicted the accident as a
Kirby was later apprehended with a female companion a few blocks
from the crash by officers, who observed the couple walking away
from Kirby’s vehicle. Kirby was described as “emitting an odor of
alcohol, slurring his speech, and having bloodshot and watery
eyes,” according to the release. Kirby's blood alcohol level was
recorded at .13 percent approximately two hours after his
Lewis was pronounced dead at the scene of the accident. His
girlfriend, Lacy Lynn White was ejected from the vehicle in the
crash and landed on a nearby dirt embankment. White, 23, was
transported to Western Medical Center – Santa Ana, where she was
treated for a fractured elbow, lacerations and abrasions.
Investigating officials told Sherdog.com on Thursday that White is
in critical, but stable condition and is expected to survive.
Lewis, 45, was one of the co-founders of the ultra-popular
MMA-lifestyle clothing brand and a star of the Versus reality TV
show “Tapout.” Lewis and his partners debuted their logo in
November 1997 and built a multi-million dollar clothing business
virtually from scratch, selling T-shirts out of their cars at
grassroots events into the early 2000s. Lewis and his partners were
noted for their dedication to the sport’s advancement, as well as
their generosity as sponsors to countless MMA fighters.
Editor's Note: This article was updated at 6:51 p.m. EST with
information regarding Kirby's arraignment.
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