Hearing to Begin in Fatal Boat Collision

Coast Guard trial begins over the death of an 8-year-old boy

By Monica Dean
|  Wednesday, Sep 8, 2010  |  Updated 2:49 PM PDT
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Child Killed at Parade of Lights

Susan Taylor reports

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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.

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.
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A military hearing is scheduled on Tuesday, for four U.S. Coast Guard members charged with killing an 8-year-old Rancho Penaquitos boy during the "Parade of Lights" in December 2009.

The boy's family and another passenger on the family's boat during the crash are expected to testify.
 
Investigators say one crew member was "texting" on a wireless device just before the crash that killed Anthony Cole Deweese. Four Coast Guard petty officers involved face various charges including negligent homicide, involuntary manslaughter, aggravated assault and dereliction of duty. Three members of the crew will appear at Tuesday's preliminary hearing in Alameda, near San Francisco.

"The admiral will then decide whether or not to pursue charges, dismiss charges, or reduce charges," said Doug Brown, an attorney and former military lawyer. "The investigation officer's recommendation is just that, it's a recommendation, and the convening authority isn't bound by it."

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 collision occurred the night of Dec. 20 as boats were gathered in San Diego Bay for an annual Christmas parade of decorated boats. Witnesses said the 33-foot Coast Guard boat was speeding when it collided with a 26-foot Sea Ray pleasure boat.
    
The boy's father, Alan DeWeese, 44, told The Associated Press he tried to get out of the way of the Coast Guard boat, that he estimated was traveling between 30 to 40 knots. DeWeese believes he was moving at 2 to 3 knots.

"I thought he was going to turn at some point," DeWeese said. "He came up so fast I didn't have time to react."

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 family has filed a suit in connection to the incident. In that lawsuit against the federal government, the plaintiffs are accusing Coast Guard leaders of knowing that the boat's crew wasn't properly trained and supervised because of one or more prior incidents.

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