On Wednesday, the Coast Guard ordered three petty officers to stand trial in a San Diego Bay crash that killed an 8-year-old boy last year.
Anthony Cole DeWeese, 8, was on board a 26-foot Sea Ray with family, getting ready to watch dozens of boats participate in the second weekend of the annual Parade of Lights, when the crash occurred. The annual event draws thousands to the edges of San Diego Bay.
Rear Adm. Joseph R. Castillo ordered the courts-martial after reviewing a report that concluded there was no legal justification for the Dec. 20, 2009, crash, said Coast Guard Lt. Cmdr. Rick Foster.
The Coast Guard boat was responding to reports of a grounded vessel when it collided with the pleasure boat carrying the boy. The crew blamed the crash on mechanical defects, poor training and lax leadership.
Petty Officers Paul Ramos, the commander of the boat, Ian Howell and Brittany Rasmussen have pleaded not guilty to charges in military court.
In September, Ramos testified in military court that he was haunted by the memory of Anthony.
"Every day before I go to sleep, I think about Anthony DeWeese," said Petty Officer Paul Ramos.
Ramos, 21, spoke on the fourth and final day of the military's equivalent of a preliminary hearing for three Coast Guard members charged in the crash. Ramos faces the most serious charge, involuntary manslaughter, punishable by up to 10 years in prison.
Ramos read from a handwritten statement, according to a published report, pausing when his quiet voice thickened with emotion. He recalled his response to a call that a boater was stuck in the mud.
"When I heard the [radio broadcast], I just wanted to help. I think every mariner deserves the Coast Guard's help, no matter how big or small," he said. "I gave 100 percent to every mariner I assisted."
Five other people on the recreational boat received "major traumas," according to fire department spokesperson Maurice Luque.
Two other children were taken to Rady Children's Hospital, and three adults were transported to University of California, San Diego Medical Center, said Luque.