Local Police Chief Hurt, Wife Killed After Boat Detaches on Road in Jamul

The driver of the car hauling the boat was identified as a 28-year-old man from Northern California


The wife of a local police chief was killed over the weekend when a boat fell off a trailer being towed on a rural Jamul road and crashed into the car she was driving, authorities confirmed on Monday.

Bonita residents Jennifer Kathleen Nichols, 49, and interim San Diego Harbor Police Chief Kirk Nichols were on the road Saturday evening in Jamul when a boat trailer being towed from the vehicle ahead of them became detached, sending the vessel crashing into the couple’s car, according to the California Highway Patrol.

The detachment occurred when the driver of a 2000 Mazda B3000 made a turn from southbound Honey Springs Road onto westbound State Route 94. The boat then fell off the trailer, slid on the road and crashed into the left side of the 2016 Fiat 500 the Nichols were traveling in.

Both of the Fiat’s passengers were rushed to Sharp Memorial Hospital. Jennifer Nichols died of her injuries and Kirk Nichols was treated for minor injuries.

The port issued a statement on Monday on the tragedy.

“The Port of San Diego extends our heartfelt condolences to Chief Nichols and his family and friends as they begin to process their tragic and sudden loss,” its statement read. “They have our full support and are in our thoughts and prayers at this unimaginably difficult time. The Nichols family requests privacy as they grieve.”

The driver of the Mazda, who was identified as Robert Keith Thomas, 28, of Jamestown, was arrested following the crash on suspicion of vehicular manslaughter with gross negligence.

CHP said alcohol or drugs do not appear to be a factor in the crash.

The investigation is ongoing. Anyone with information on the case is encouraged to call CHP at (619) 401-2000.

Contact Us