A Coast Guard petty officer, one of four crew charged, has been cleared of wrong doing in a collision that killed an eight-year old boy on San Diego Bay.
The Dec. 20 collision occurred as boats were gathered in San Diego Bay for an annual Christmas parade of decorated boats. The 33-foot Coast Guard boat was responding to a report of a grounded vessel when it rammed the 26-foot Sea Ray pleasure boat. Neither boat was participating in the parade, and witnesses have said the Coast Guard boat was speeding.
Anthony Cole DeWeese was struck in the head and died at a hospital after the crash. His family has filed a lawsuit against the federal government seeking unspecified damages.
The military has dismissed a dereliction of duty charge against Petty Officer Lavelle Teague, the man who served as the lookout on the coast guard vessel.
Teague was seated in the rear seat of the boat.
The driver of the boar, Petty Officer Paul Ramos testified in military court in September that he is haunted by the memory of the 8-year-old boy who died in the crash.
"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. Ramos faces the most serious charge, involuntary manslaughter, punishable by up to 10 years in prison.
The Article 32 hearing was held to consider charges against Ramos, Petty Officer Ian M. Howell, 28, and Petty Officer Brittany N. Rasmussen, 25. An investigating officer will make a recommendation whether they should be court-martialed, but the final decision rests with Rear Adm. Joseph Castillo, commander of Coast Guard District 11, which includes San Diego.
The case against a fourth defendant, Petty Officer Lavelle Teague, 30, was handled separately.
Ramos' lawyer, Cmdr. Brian Koshulsky, called the deadly crash a perfect storm of choices that seemed reasonable at the time, including rushing to check on the grounded boater.
"Petty Officer Ramos will live with this for the rest of his life," Koshulsky said Friday. "We never said there should not be consequences. But the consequences should not be criminal."
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.