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Old 10-08-2010, 07:01 AM   #1
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USCG San Diego Collision

Three Coast Guard Members Face Court-Martial

Thursday, October 7th, 2010

"The U.S. Coast Guard announced Wednesday that three personnel are to be court-martialed over a December 2009 collision that killed an 8-year old boy.

The U.S. Coast Guard released the following information regarding the charges:

Petty Officer Paul A. Ramos, the boat coxswain, has been charged with involuntary manslaughter, negligent homicide, aggravated assault, negligently hazarding a vessel, and dereliction of duty. Ramos has been referred to a general court-martial.

Petty Officer Ian M. Howell, has been charged with negligent homicide assault, negligently suffering a vessel to be hazarded, and dereliction of duty. Howell has been referred to special court-martial.

Petty Officer Brittany N. Rasmussen, has been charged with negligent homicide, assault, and dereliction of duty. She also has been referred to special court-martial.

The Coast Guard explained, there are three types of courts-martial -- general, special and summary. A general court-martial is composed of not less than five members, presided over by a military judge, and may impose any sentence authorized in the manual for courts-martial for offenses of which the accused is found guilty. A special court-martial is composed of not less than three members, presided over by a military judge, and may impose a maximum punishment of up to 12 months confinement, forfeiture of two-thirds pay for 12 months, reduction to lowest pay grade and a bad conduct discharge.

The 33-ft Coast Guard vessel was en route to aide a grounded vessel when it collided with a 26-ft Sea Ray, a recreational boat. Eight year old Anthony DeWeese was killed and 5 others were severely injured in the accident, that took place while the family was out to see the annual Parade of Lights in the San Diego Bay. Two other children were taken to Rady Children's Hospital, and three adults were transported to University of California, San Diego Medical Center.

Crowds of people gathered to see the parade reported hearing the collision.

The families on board the boat have sued the Coast Guard. Crew onboard the USCG patrol vessel claim their boat had issues when operating, obstructing their line of sight. "
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Old 10-08-2010, 11:29 AM   #2
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RE: USCG San Diego Collision

I can understand all the charges except the "aggravated assault' charge. Doesn't that imply something deliberate?
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Old 10-08-2010, 02:01 PM   #3
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RE: USCG San Diego Collision

Quote:
Marin wrote:I can understand all the charges except the "aggravated assault' charge. Doesn't that imply something deliberate?
I'm not a lawyer, don't work for one, and have never had more than a "brush" with one and that was for real estate advice and this came off the internet so* you don't have to take my word for it.

West's Encyclopedia of American Law, edition 2 says:


A person is guilty of aggravated assault if he or she attempts to cause serious bodily injury to another or causes such injury purposely, knowingly, or recklessly under circumstances manifesting extreme indifference to the value of human life;

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Old 10-08-2010, 02:25 PM   #4
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RE: USCG San Diego Collision

Quote:
RickB wrote:


A person is guilty of aggravated assault if he or she attempts to cause serious bodily injury to another or causes such injury purposely, knowingly, or recklessly under circumstances manifesting extreme indifference to the value of human life;
Pretty much covers everything.

SD

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Old 10-08-2010, 02:35 PM   #5
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RE: USCG San Diego Collision

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RickB wrote:


...causes such injury .....recklessly under circumstances manifesting extreme indifference to the value of human life;
*

Okay, makes sense to me.* Thanks.

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Old 10-08-2010, 02:36 PM   #6
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RE: USCG San Diego Collision

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skipperdude wrote:

Pretty much covers everything.


Yeah, but unfortunately not everyone.

I think those poor schmucks are the whipping boys for a system that has been broken for a long time and the higher ups who are ultimately responsible for that tragedy will walk away unscathed.

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Old 10-08-2010, 02:43 PM   #7
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RE: USCG San Diego Collision

Yep,
*Isn't that the way it go's

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Old 10-08-2010, 03:10 PM   #8
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RE: USCG San Diego Collision

Quote:
RickB wrote:

I think those poor schmucks are the whipping boys for a system that has been broken for a long time and the higher ups who are ultimately responsible for that tragedy will walk away unscathed.
I've worked for the federal guvment for 32 years. The "manglement" never accepts responsibility.

That said, it could be that these Coasties were wreckless in how they operated the boat, but it also could be that their manglement was not ensuring proper training, attitude of safety, and oversight.

From our point of view its really not easy to tell the REAL cause.
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Old 10-08-2010, 03:20 PM   #9
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RE: USCG San Diego Collision

the whole situation literally gives me chills to think about.* How quickly life can end.* So sad.* All I have heard about the incident suggests that the Coasties were "distracted" while operating their vessel--texting on their phones is what I seem to recall.* So perhaps the court martials are justified??* Either way a young boy is dead and nothing can change that now.* *
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Old 10-08-2010, 03:25 PM   #10
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RE: USCG San Diego Collision

Quote:
RickB wrote:

I think those poor schmucks are the whipping boys for a system that has been broken for a long time and the higher ups who are ultimately responsible for that tragedy will walk away unscathed.
I wouldn't be so quick to shift the blame.* Those schmucks demonstrated*immaturity and poor common sense.* Unless the higher-ups*encouraged those characteristics or ignored past behaviors, the schmucks should accept total*responsibility.

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Old 10-08-2010, 03:55 PM   #11
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USCG San Diego Collision

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markpierce wrote: I wouldn't be so quick to shift the blame.* Those schmucks demonstrated*immaturity and poor common sense.* Unless the higher-ups*encouraged those characteristics or ignored past behaviors, the schmucks should accept total*responsibility.

They do encourage it, they call it demonstrating "command presence." They have killed a few of their own and the San Diego collision was the second one in December, both incidents involved high speed and use of cell phones.

http://www.ntsb.gov/pressrel/2010/100811.html

A previous collision incident in Miami was determined by the NTSB*to be caused by: "...*the failure of the coxswain of the Coast Guard patrol boat to operate his vessel at a safe speed in a restricted-speed area frequented by small passenger vessels and in conditions of limited visibility due to darkness and background lighting.Contributing to the cause of the accident was the lack of adequate Coast Guard oversight of nonstandard boat operations.

http://www.ntsb.gov/publictn/2002/MAR0205.pdf
********* http://www.uscg.mil/foia/docs/MSSTAnchCapsizeFDL.PDF

********* http://www.uscg.mil/foia/ANCHORAGE/ExecSummary.pdf


-- Edited by RickB on Friday 8th of October 2010 04:00:52 PM
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Old 10-08-2010, 04:13 PM   #12
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RE: USCG San Diego Collision

Quote:
RickB wrote:



They do encourage it, they call it demonstrating "command presence." They have killed a few of their own and the San Diego collision was the second one in December, both incidents involved high speed and use of cell phones.
How does cell-phone use, particularly texting, equate with "command presence"?

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Old 10-08-2010, 04:15 PM   #13
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RE: USCG San Diego Collision

Quote:
RickB wrote:I think those poor schmucks are the whipping boys for a system that has been broken for a long time and the higher ups who are ultimately responsible for that tragedy will walk away unscathed. (ridiculous! The "higher ups" were not driving! Should you do time for an accident that your son had with the car you bought him?)
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Ralph Yost said: ....... it could be the Coasties were reckless in how they operated the boat, ........(My view is that they were!...texting on a cell phone, no look out, etc. )
Gentlemen:*
I was there that night, watching the parade from the shore
when all this went down. Earlier in the evening, my wife wanted me to take
our boat out so as to view the parade from the water. I refused on the
grounds that it was amateur night on the bay and I didn't want any part of
it. She was peeved and* accused me of being an old "fuddy duddy".
(She is no longer allowed on my boat until she can adhere to the captain's
wishes, with no back talk.)

As it turned out, not only was it amateur night, but it was the pros who*
screwed up.


*
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Old 10-08-2010, 04:24 PM   #14
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RE: USCG San Diego Collision

Quote:
SeaHorse II wrote:

...* I was there that night, watching the parade from the shore
when all this went down. Earlier in the evening, my wife wanted me to take
our boat out so as to view the parade from the water. I refused on the
grounds that it was amateur night on the bay and I didn't want any part of
it.
Walt, you demonstrated good judgment.* I also try to avoid celebrating New Year's Eves more than three miles from home and*skip opening-boat days to avoid the crazy yahoos.

*
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Old 10-08-2010, 04:39 PM   #15
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RE: USCG San Diego Collision

Quote:
markpierce wrote:How does cell-phone use, particularly texting, equate with "command presence"?
?? What are you talking about?
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Old 10-08-2010, 04:53 PM   #16
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RE: USCG San Diego Collision

Quote:
RickB wrote:



?? What are you talking about?
If you'd install an electric motor with propeller in the bow thruster location, you could escape your galley-slave environment and breathe fresh air.

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Old 10-08-2010, 06:38 PM   #17
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RE: USCG San Diego Collision

Quote:
SeaHorse II wrote:

I refused on the grounds that it was amateur night on the bay and I didn't want any part of
it.


*
That's a smart attitude, I think,*parade of lights or not.* There are places in the San Juan Islands we won't go during certain times of the boating season because it's just too crazy.* And since all it takes for a person to by a 50-foot boat and plow around in it is the money to buy it, you*can't rely on the other guy coming at you to know what he's doing or to react in a sensible way to what you're doing.* That's why we (and others) prefer boating in the fall, winter, and spring up here.* Most of the nutsos are terrorizing people on the roads, not in their boats.
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Old 10-08-2010, 08:11 PM   #18
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RE: USCG San Diego Collision

This is a tough one for me to comment on being a former Boatswains Mate 2nd Class (E5)in the USCG, every minute of my 6 years was spent at small boat stations, operating search and rescue/law enforcement vessels(Michigan, Charleston, SC, St. Croix, and Wilmington NC)*before getting out in late 2006 to pursue business interests. Let me break my response into a couple of random thoughts, and with all due respect to those who lost their lives:

1. No one joins the Coast Guard to kill people. They join to protect and save lives. If they intentionally wanted to kill people, they would have joined the Army, Navy, Marines, or Air Force(all great services, with great people, but hopefully you all know what I mean by that statement).

2. Why where they responding to a grounded vessel? The Coast Guard does not respond to situations that commercial salvage can handle, unless no commercial salvage is available. Surely there is Towboat or Seatow in San Diego? Where they not available? Was there a medical emergency oboard? Was the vessel in serious danger of sinking? There MUST have been one of those present for them to be responding, and at speed. I cannot tell you how many people ran aground or ran out of gas and figured out some sort of "medical emergency" to get us to respond and help them because they did not have commercial towing coverage and did not want to pay for it. Everyone knew that if someone is feeling "faint" or has a rapid pulse that the Coast Guard will respond, and respond fast, and get them out of an expensive towing bill.

3. Those men and women are under immense pressure to respond quickly and do it right. One of the many tests I had to pass when at my first SAR station getting my first Coxswain qualification was getting from my bunk in the middle of the night, getting the lat/long or reported position from the dispatcher, plotting the position on a paper chart, laying out my track lines, turns, and distances on the paper chart, then getting myself and the crew underway (with this informaiton entered into the chartplotter as a backup to the paper chart) with lines off the dock in 8 minutes. Oh yeah, we had to have all of our personal protective equipment and uniforms on. Try that sometime. You need alot of experience, training, and "command oversight" to manage your pulse rate and the throttles when running one of those response boats on a real case where peoples lives depend on it. When I was in the USCG from 2001 to 2007, cell phones did not do what they do now, all you did was make calls, and a few people had just started texting. Many where issued work phones and Nextel direct connect phones as part of SOP....it was just one of those things you kept on you. While texting has no place underway, those men and women are issued cell phones and expected to use them as part of doing business, just like the rest of the world. THe boats the USCG operates have gotten much faster over the last few years from the days of the 12kt 44' Motorlife boats to Homeland Security go fast type boats they have now, which they still try to do SAR with....but until the last year or so I got out, there was not training tailored to these fast boats, and even that was only for select "Special" LE units....

4. Can you imagine the outcry and lawsuits if a vessel sunk in that bay that night and lives where lost and the USCG responders where seen meandering down to the dock, leasurley, taking the lines off, and idling through the no wake zones enroute to the case????? The general public expects them (USCG)to respond to their recklass behavior and ignorance quicker then they can get themselves in trouble. They don' expect them to take their time, they expect them to get there as soon as possible. When you combine fast boats, emergency situations, sometimes new coxwains (they all have to start somewhere), boaters who never look behind them, and then throw in the human factor, mistakes are going to happen.

5. Wealthy yacht/trawler owners refering to men and women who defend our shores and save our butts when we get in trouble, putting their lives on the line in* search and rescue, law enforcement, homeland security, and on foreign soil/water, situations as "schmucks" is as IGNORANT and DISRESPECTFULL as it gets, no matter what side of the line you are on. The men and women in question made a huge mistake that they will have to live with for their entire lives. No amount of jail time, pay reduction, or anything else will bring back the lives lost or what they will have to live with the rest of their lives. It was an accident. When your yacht gets in trouble in the middle of the night in heavy weather offshore and these men and women are putting their lives on the line rushing through a breaking inlet in the middle of a thunderstorm going as fast as possible to get to you, you won't be thinking of them as schmucks.

6. "killed some of their own" Also disrespectful. No one in the USCG would do that intentionally. I will agree that the system has flaws. I worked for great officers, and horrible officers. I worked for officers who would throw an enlisted person under the bus in a heartbeat to get a better OER, and I worked for high ranking officers who put their 30 years career on the line for and E2 who made a mistake and needed help, or was being falsey accused. The system could be improved, but overall it works, and which one of us is going to give up our cushy lifestyle and go back and put a uniform on and try to change it? I experienced witch hunts by junior officers, and got underway with officers who enlisted folks would follow their whole careers. These coxswains go through some of the most intense training out there. The entire USCG has less man power then the NYPD. They are the smallest of the DOD and DHS orginizations, yet are tasked with SAR, LE, and HS, around all of our borders, and overseas. They are undermanned and underpaid. These individuals will pay for the mistake they made, but it was an ACCIDENT. Before to many of you jump on the "immature" and "poor common sense" and "recklass"* bandwagon, try being in their shoes for a day and running those boats in the conditions they run them in. Everyone wants them to respond faster then they can screw up, until they make a mistake, then its time for a roast. Someday you or someone you know will need their assistance to save a life, and you will be amazed at how they come together in bad situations to save lives. When I first started at Search and Rescue stations, the unnoficial motto was "You have to go out, but you don't have to come back" Take some time to process what that statement really means to the folks who still live by that motto.

Thats all I have to say about that........
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Old 10-08-2010, 08:17 PM   #19
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RE: USCG San Diego Collision

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Thats all I have to say about that........
Thank you for saying it.

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Old 10-08-2010, 08:26 PM   #20
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RE: USCG San Diego Collision

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markpierce wrote:

How does cell-phone use, particularly texting, equate with "command presence"?
I have no idea how the USCG operates, but I can tell you based on a project that took me the other week to Fort Bliss and White Sands Missile base in Texas*where the Army is testing all sorts of remote and robotic surveillance systems under identical conditions to those found in the mountains of Afghanastan that today's Army uses the same "social networking" technolgies high school students use.* Live chat on laptops is rapidly replacing radio communications bewteen units, between individuals in the field, and between field units and command posts, and text messaging is also*being used to communicate between soldiers in the field and*command posts farther back.** Most soldiers in the field*today carry a laptop in addition to their M5.

I have no idea how these communication tools*are being applied in the USCG, or even IF they are being applied.* But if the Army is using them increasingly in combat theatres, it stands to reason the same technologies may be finding their way into the other services, too.
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