4 Coast Guard Members Charged in Boat Collision

GENERIC life preserver ring coast guard rescue drowning CBS/AP

The Coast Guard filed criminal charges Thursday against four members of the service involving the collision of one of its patrol boats and a civilian craft that killed an 8-year-old boy and injured five other people on San Diego Bay.

The Coast Guard said in a statement that four petty officers face charges ranging from involuntary manslaughter to negligent homicide and dereliction of duty. Some of the charges are punishable by several years in prison upon conviction.

The collision occurred the night of Dec. 20 as boats were gathered in San Diego Bay for an annual Christmas parade of decorated boats. Witnesses had said the 33-foot Coast Guard boat was speeding when it collided with a 26-foot Sea Ray pleasure boat.

Anthony Cole DeWeese died in the crash.

The charges were brought against the four boat crew members under the Uniform Code of Military Justice. Rear Adm. Joseph Castillo, commander of the 11th Coast Guard District, was named as the convening authority in the case.

The Coast Guard charged Petty Officer Paul A. Ramos, the boat coxswain, with involuntary manslaughter, aggravated assault, negligently hazarding a vessel, and dereliction of duty.

Petty Officer Ian M. Howell was charged with negligent homicide, aggravated assault, negligently suffering a vessel to be hazarded, and dereliction of duty.

Petty Officer Brittany N. Rasmussen was charged with negligent homicide, aggravated assault, and dereliction of duty.

A charge of dereliction of duty was brought against Petty Officer Lavelle M. Teague.

The case will proceed to a military process called an Article 32 investigation, similar to a grand jury in civilian courts, where a decision will be made whether to move forward to a court-martial.

Involuntary manslaughter is punishable by up to 10 years in prison. Other potential maximum terms are five years for aggravated assault, three years for negligent homicide, two years for negligently hazarding a vessel, and three months for dereliction of duty.
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