Arraignment scheduled in Bass Lake death

Phat Chau, a San Jose man accused of piloting a jet ski at Bass Lake that killed a 13-year-old boy and severely injured a teenage girl last month, is scheduled to be arraigned 9 a.m. Aug. 4 in the county’s Sierra Divsion courthouse at the lake.

Chau, 55, allegedly drove a waverunner (jet ski) into an inflatable innertube ridden by David Flores of Fresno and his 16-year-old aunt Julissa Valenzuela on June 27, which killed Flores and sent Valenzuela to the hospital with serious head injuries.

No alcohol or drug use was suspected in the fatal wreck. Flores’s father, who also rode the innertube, was not harmed.

At the arraignment, in the courtroom of Judge Charles A. Wieland, Chau will be informed of the dual misdemeanor charges against him before entering an expected plea of not guilty.

Madera County District Attorney David Linn will represent the people in prosecution at that hearing.

In the criminal complaint filed against Chau on July 28, authorities charged him with involuntary manslaughter, as well as a violation of a state Harbors & Navigation Code, in that he displayed a reckless or negligent manner while piloting the vessel that injured Valenzuela.

Valenzuela was sent to Community Regional Medical Center in Fresno for medical care, but has since been released.

Although the exact speed of the waverunner at the time of the accident is unknown, the sheriff’s office said witnesses told investigators it was traveling “very fast.”

Chau will be represented by Fresno lawyer Michael Idiart. Madera County District Attorney David Linn said Chau has been cooperative with the investigation.

If convicted of the charges, Chau could face imprisonment in county jail, with sentences to be determined by the court.