by Tom Hamlin & Jeff Cain (Photo Courtesy of April Pishna)
Charles Lewis Jr., better known to MMA fans as “Mask,” was killed in a hit-and-run accident Tuesday, March 11, 2009, in Newport Beach, Calif.
Lewis was the founder of Tapout Clothing, Inc., and the face of its popular reality show on cable channel Versus. Several sources within the company confirmed his passing.
At 12:57 a.m., a Newport Beach Police cruiser spotted Lewis’ red Ferrari and a white Porsche driving out of control on the southbound side of Jamboree Road, according to Lt. Jim Amormino, a public information officer with the Orange County Sherrif’s Department.
The Ferrari then struck the curb and hit a utility pole, tearing the car in half. After coming to a brief stop, the Porsche fled the scene.
An unnamed female passenger was ejected from Lewis’ car in the crash. Newport Beach paramedics pronounced Lewis dead at the scene.
Newport Beach officers later spotted the Porsche and stopped its passengers, a male and female, who were seen walking away from the vehicle.
Upon further investigation officers determined that the male, Jeffrey David Kirby, a 51-year-old resident of Costa Mesa, Calif., was the driver of the vehicle.
Kirby was arrested for gross vehicular manslaughter and taken to the Newport Beach Police Department. The female passenger, Lynn Marie Nabozny, a 32-year-old resident of Newport Beach, was arrested for public intoxication and released Wednesday morning.
Kirby’s bail is set at $1 million dollars. The results of a blood alcohol test administered at the jail are forthcoming. No further motive for the accident is known at this time, according to Amormino.
(UPDATE 2:30 p.m. PT / 5:30 p.m. ET)
Tapout confirms the death of Charles “Mask” Lewis, Jr.
Tapout later in the day released an official confirmation of Lewis’ death, saying:
“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.”
Charles “Mask” Lewis, Jr. was 45 years old.