Maritime Matter of the Week

Coast Guard Releases Report Involving 2009 Fatal Crash That Crewmembers Were Responsible For


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The U.S. Coast Guard has been responsible for saving countless lives from peril on the high seas. However, there have been times in which the Coast Guard cannot respond in time to save victims or has been responsible itself for accidents. As with any maritime organization, there are instances in which crewmembers do not abide by proper safety standards. But while cruise ship companies and shipping agencies might not be so keen on admitting guilt, the Coast Guard has released a report explaining the incident in detail and how it was caused by unnecessary speeding.

According to the report, released Thursday night, the failure of a Coast Guard boat operator to drive his craft safely led to a 2009 collision with a pleasure craft that killed an 8-year-old boy and injured 10 people in San Diego Harbor.

Additionally, the report explained that the crew failed to follow standard risk management procedures, but has placed primary blame on the driver of the boat, Petty Officer 3rd Class Paul Ramos, who was demoted and sentenced to three months in the brig for dereliction of duty for the crash and death of the young child.

The 33-foot Coast Guard patrol vessel was traveling as fast as 42 knots — or 48 mph — when it crashed into the 24-foot pleasure of the victims. Thirteen people were aboard the boat, including 8-year-old Anthony DeWeese, who was killed, and 10 others who sustained injuries.

The report was released following an extensive investigation by the National Transportation Safety Board and the conclusion of a military trial for Ramos and two other crew members. Its goal was to detail the incident and find ways to prevent future maritime accidents.

“No words or deeds can atone for the death of a young boy, or for the pain caused to his family,” Vice Adm. John P. Currier, the Coast Guard’s vice commandant, said in a statement that accompanied the report. “We can only affirm our resolve to ensure nothing like this happens again.”

The crew had been on the way to help a grounded sailboat, but according to investigators, the vessel was not in immediate danger of taking on water and there was no need for the Coast Guard team to speed.

The report also recommends better training for Coast Guard boat operators and commanders, and suggests reviewing the agency’s risk management policy and previous collisions to ensure all crewmembers are fully trained on safety measures and standards.
The crew members involved in the tragic maritime accident apologized to DeWeese’s family in court. Ian Howell, the highest-ranking member of the patrol boat crew, told Deweese’s parents he wished it had been him who was killed instead of their son.

Unfortunately, this young child isn’t the only victim of a maritime accident involving speeding. Several boat accidents take place around the country – and around the world – which are caused by speeding or some other form of reckless behavior. Anyone who has been injured or lost someone they love has a right to seek legal assistance with a maritime lawyer in order to protect their rights and fight for compensation for their pain and suffering.

If you or a loved one were hurt at sea or in port due to another person’s negligence, contact our maritime law firm today to discuss your options in filing a case.

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