HELENDALE-(VVNG.com): A 45-year-old Helendale man is facing willful cruelty to child causing injury or death charges following a October 3, 2014 boating accident at Silver Lakes. Witnesses said that the man controlling the boat, identified as Timothy Wilhite was doing stunts which consequently lead to the accident leaving then 4-year-old Cienna Banks severely injured.
The boat, packed with mostly teens was doing 360’s as the the child was in the passenger seat with no life jacket on. The small child was thrown from the boat, after a witness said the nose of the boat went up. The boat landed on top of the small child causing severe injuries to her leg, chest, face and back. Wilhite never jumped in the rescue the child, but the teens inside the boat went in to save her.
Banks was airlifted to Loma Linda Medical Center where she was temporarily on life support and underwent several surgeries as a result of the accident. One of the teen passengers told Victor Valley News,”The adult driving said get the heck in the water, so I jumped in. I felt like I was drowning, but was willing to give my life to rescue her.” She said the child was unresponsive and her leg was barely hanging on once she was pulled back onto the boat.
Wilhite was questioned by police, but witnesses said that he told authorities that the child was hanging over the boat attempting to touch the water when she fell out. All others that witnessed the event said that the boat operator was doing stunts including drifting, and doing “360’s” causing the child to be thrown from the boat.
The community was outraged, many knowing this particular boat operator to be commonly seen driving recklessly. A resident said in the 2014 interview, “He always has young kids on the boat. I live on the point on open water so I have a view of the lake. He has been in front of the fines committee for speeding on the lake more than once.” On October 7th the boat was seized by the San Bernardino Sheriff’s Department as part of a criminal investigation.
On September 28th, 2015 the San Bernardino County District Attorney’s office filed charges against Wilhite. Wilhite was arrested from the 11400 block of Nautical Lane in Helendale on Tuesday, November 10, 2015 at about 1:40 p.m. He was released on Friday, November 13, 2015 at about 9:30 p.m.
Wilhite is due to appear at the Victorville Superior Court on Wednesday, November 24th.