Coast Guard Boat Design Questioned in Crash Hearing

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    NEWSLETTERS

    Susan Taylor reports

    The U.S. Coast Guard patrol boat involved in a deadly crash during San Diego's "Parade of Lights" last December may have a dangerous design flaw.

    The information was revealed during a military hearing for four U.S. Coast Guard members charged with killing Anthony Cole Deweese during the annual event on San Diego Bay.

    Coast Guard Hearing in Boy's Death Set to Start

    [DGO] Coast Guard Hearing in Boy's Death Set to Start
    Three face charges after a child died in 2009 at the San Diego Bay Parade of Lights.

    The 8-year-old Rancho Penaquitos boy and his father were on a 26-foot Sea Ray pleasure boat during the parade when their boat collided with a 33-foot Coast Guard patrol boat. 

    Four Coast Guard petty officers involved face various charges including negligent homicide, involuntary manslaughter, aggravated assault and dereliction of duty.

    Child Killed at Parade of Lights

    [DGO] Child Killed at Parade of Lights
    A child was killed when a U.S. Coast Guard and a private boat collided on San Diego Bay Sunday night.

    During Wednesday's hearing in Alameda, defense attorneys showed video of tests which they said show visibility problems with the patrol boats used by the Coast Guard in harbors like San Diego. According to pool reports, when the boats' engines run at 3,000 to 4,000 RPM the bows of the boats dip up. In that position, the driver and crew can not effectively see over the front of the bow, according to defense attorneys.

    Lawyers for the defendants said this problem is widely known among Coast Guard boatswains who serve on these small boats.

    Other points covered during Wednesday's hearing included statements made by Petty Officer 3rd Class Paul Ramos that he turned his head to ask another crew member to turn on the boat's siren and lights about five seconds before the fatal collision.

    After the accident, the boy's father, Alan DeWeese, 44, told The Associated Press he had tried to get out of the way of the Coast Guard boat, that he estimated was traveling between 30 to 40 knots. Alan DeWeese believes he was moving at 2 to 3 knots.

    On Wednesday, Ramos told investigators he was driving the boat at 18 mph (approximately 15 knots) or 3,000 RPM.

    Ramos' attorney argued that the Coast Guard is prosecuting his client to duck responsibilty and a lawsuit.

    "The family is rightly suing the Coast Guard," said Navy Cmdr. Brian Koshulsky, one of Ramos' military attorneys. "It's in the Coast Guard's interest to blame my client."

    Two other children, ages 3 and 4, were taken to Rady Children's Hospital that night, and three adults were transported to University of California, San Diego Medical Center.

    The boy's family and another passenger on the family's boat during the crash are expected to testify.