Three members of the Coast Guard boat involved in a fatal collision on San Diego Bay will be court-martialed on criminal charges, officials announced Wednesday.
The collision between a 33-foot Coast Guard cutter and a 24-foot Sea Ray civilian boat took place during the Parade of Lights on Dec. 20, 2009. It injured six members of three families and killed 8-year-old Anthony DeWeese.
Rear Adm. Joseph Castillo, commander of the 11th Coast Guard District, decided to proceed with courts-martial following an Article 32 investigation into the incident. The dates and locations for the trials have not been determined.
Petty Officer Paul A. Ramos, the boat coxswain, faces a general court-martial on charges of involuntary manslaughter, negligent homicide, aggravated assault, negligently hazarding a vessel and dereliction of duty.
Petty Officer Ian M. Howell and Petty Officer Brittany N. Rasmussen will be judges by special courts-martial. Both are charged with negligent homicide, assault, negligently suffering a vessel to be hazarded and dereliction of duty .
A fourth crew member, Petty Officer Lavelle M. Teague, is charged with dereliction of duty. His case will be heard at an administrative hearing, where he faces a maximum of 30 days in custody, forfeiture of pay and reduction in rank.
The Coast Guard vessel was en route to aide a grounded boat when it collided with the 24-foot Sea Ray. Members of three families who were on the recreational boat have sued the Coast Guard.
For their part, the accused crew members contend their patrol vessel had structural defects. They also claim they were badly trained and poorly led.
Video of tests by investigators showed visibility problems with the type of Coast Guard boat involved in the collision. When the engine is running at 3,000 to 4,000 revolutions per minute, the bow of the vessel rides up, obscuring the pilot's line of sight, according to attorneys for the defendants.