Charges Reduced in Fatal Parade of Lights Crash

Nearly two years after a child was killed in the annual San Diego Bay Parade of Lights, Coast Guard officials said on Thursday that they were reducing the charges against one crew member of the Coast Guard boat that was involved.

Anthony DeWeese, 8, was killed during last year's parade, when a 33-foot Coast Guard boat rammed into the 26-foot Sea Ray pleasure boat Anthony was on. The Dec. 20 collision occurred as boats were gathered for the annual Christmas parade of decorated boats.

On Thursday, Coast Guard officials announced they were reducing charges against Petty Officer Brittany N. Rasmussen, who will now only face a charge of dereliction of duty. She had originally faced charges of negligent homicide and aggravated assault in addition to the allegation of dereliction of duty. Rasmussen's court-martial is scheduled for Jan. 26.

One legal expert theorized that the Coast Guard dropped the other charges against Rasmussen because the case against her on those charges was weak

In November, another Coast Guard petty officer, one of four crew who had been charged, was cleared of all wrongdoing in connection to the collision. The military 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.

Witnesses have said the Coast Guard boat was speeding.  Anthony was struck in the head and died at a hospital after the crash.

Ramos and another Coast Guard member, Petty Officer Ian M. Howell, are scheduled for courts-martial in February and May, respectively. A pre-trial hearing for Ramos is scheduled for Dec. 14.

Since the crash, the boy’s family has filed a lawsuit against the federal government seeking unspecified damages.

Earlier this week, officials announced that a safety zone would be set up at the San Diego Parade of Lights for the next two Sundays. People and vessels won't be allowed to enter the zone between 5:30 p.m. and 8 p.m., both Sundays. The Coast Guard said the zone includes waters within 150-yards of the parade route. It begins near the west side of Shelter Island and ends near the Coronado ferry terminal.

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