Charges reduced in fatal harbor boat collision
SAN DIEGO (CNS) – A U.S. Coast Guard crew member involved in an on-duty boat crash that killed an 8-year-old Rancho Penasquitos boy on San Diego Bay last year will face reduced charges over the fatal accident, the federal maritime agency announced today.
Military prosecutors have dropped accusations of negligent homicide and aggravated assault against Petty Officer 3rd Class Brittany Rasmussen stemming from the fatal collision last Dec. 20.
Rasmussen, 25, is now slated to face a single count of dereliction of duty during her trial, scheduled for Jan. 26.
Rasmussen and three other Coast Guard members were aboard a 33-foot patrol vessel that rammed a pleasure boat during the annual holiday Parade of Lights on the harbor, killing third-grader Anthony DeWeese and badly injuring several other occupants of the civilian craft.
Petty Officer 3rd Class Paul Ramos, 21, who was piloting the government boat, faces the most serious allegations, including involuntary manslaughter. A pretrial hearing for Ramos is scheduled for next week at the 11th Coast Guard District Headquarters in Alameda.
Petty Officer 2nd Class Ian Howell, 28, is charged with negligent homicide. Last month, an officer presiding over a hearing in the case threw out a dereliction-of-duty charge against the fourth involved crew member, Petty Officer Lavelle Teague, 30, citing insufficient evidence.
The personnel were en route to aid a grounded boat when their vessel collided with the recreational boat. Members of three families who were aboard the 24-foot Sea Ray along with Anthony have sued the Coast Guard.
For their part, the accused crew members have contended that their vessel had structural defects and claimed they were hampered by bad training and poor leadership.