Two drown at Ute Lake

By Angela Peacock

Two Portales men drowned in a boating accident at Ute Lake on Thursday night. One victim was Frank Davis, who gained national attention when he paid comedian Jay Leno more than $320,000 for a celebrity-autographed motorcycle soon after Sept. 11, 2001. The money went to the Twin Towers Fund for the victims of the 9-11 terrorist attacks.

Charles Dunn of Dunn Funeral Home in Tucumcari said the bodies of Davis, 39, and Sam Sanchez, 57, were taken to Albuquerque for autopsies on Friday.

Officials said Davis, Sanchez and Jimmy Park, also of Portales, were boating on the lake near Logan when their boat ran aground on a sandbar.

They abandoned the boat and attempted to swim an estimated 150 yards to shore. Only Park survived.

New Mexico State Police said they were notified of the accident about 10:30 p.m. on Thursday. The state police dive team was activated and recovered the bodies about 1:40 p.m. Friday afternoon.

NMSP Lt. Robert San Roman said several factors may have contributed to the accident, but he provided no additional information.

Davis appeared on Jay Leno’s Tonight Show on Oct. 20, 2001, after placing the highest bid — $320,000 — on a celebrity-autographed Harley Davidson motorcycle.

Arnold Schwarzenegger, Sylvester Stallone, Denzel Washington, Nicole Kidman, John Travolta, Nicolas Cage, Pamela Anderson, Earvin “Magic” Johnson, Martina McBride and Tom Cruise were among those who signed the bike.

Davis displayed the bike for others to see, including in Clovis last month when the city hosted the Badlands motorcycle rally, attracting hundreds of motorcycle enthusiasts from throughout the region.