BAKERSFIELD — A Bakersfield youth who was run over by a speed boat and maimed on Shaver Lake in 2006, but returned to school with hopes of becoming a firefighter like his father and grandfather, has died.
Dallen Jeffrey McEntire, 19, died at his home Friday evening, the Kern County Sheriff-Coroner's Office said. The cause of death is pending, the office said.
McEntire was 11 years old and riding a kneeboard being towed by his father on a personal watercraft during the 2006 Labor Day holiday when a speed boat hit him and then left. McEntire was pulled from the water with critical injuries; the propeller had slashed through his skull, across his forehead, and under his nose and left eyelid.
He spent more than a month at Children's Hospital Central California's Pediatric Intensive Care Unit in Madera County. The damage necessitated neurosurgery and facial reconstruction, plus rehabilitation.
Not even his dad, a captain in the Bakersfield Fire Department, was sure he'd make it.
But he did, and recovered so quickly he earned the nickname "Superman."
The driver of the speed boat, Roger Guzman of Lake Elsinore in Southern California, had been drinking and speeding on the lake. He was sentenced eventually to two years in prison after he was convicted of a felony charge of leaving the scene without rendering aid. He was also ordered to pay more than $1.1 million in restitution -- most of it earmarked for insurance companies that paid for the boy's medical expenses and ongoing care.
A passenger in Guzman's boat, Thomas Kirby, was ordered to pay $80,000 in restitution. Kirby pleaded no contest to a felony charge of being an accessory for lying to police about the collision.
To Dallen McEntire, the accident was just something that happened. Three months later he was riding his dirt bike in the Kern County desert at Dove Springs.
"He knew there were (physiological) issues (from the accident) but he never once let them deter him or get in his way," said his mother, Lynn.
"I think he would tell you the accident made him a stronger person," she said. "Did it define him? No. He was already who he was."
McEntire had his struggles from the accident. He never could see much but shadows out of his left eye. Studying was not easy for him. And there was a lot of scar tissue.
But he returned to school, and eventually began attending Bakersfield College with dreams of being a firefighter like his dad and his grandfather.
In November he had a grand mal seizure, and then two more this year. It prevented him from driving, but he finished the fall semester and had gone to classes on Feb. 13.
"Everything he overcame through his years kept us going," said his father, Jeff. "We're so thankful for those seven years.
"We just needed another 70."
In addition to his parents, McEntire is survived by his brother, Blake; his grandparents, Don and Villa Lewis, of Neodesha, Kan., and Shirley McEntire of Clovis.
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