Charges filed against Coast Guard personnel over death of boy at boat parade

Criminal charges, including negligent homicide, were filed Thursday against U.S. Coast Guard sailors involved in a boat collision late last year that resulted in the death of an 8-year-old Rancho Penasquitos boy.

Anthony Cole DeWeese died and five other people were injured in the Dec. 20 collision that took place during the annual Parade of Lights on San Diego Bay.

The charges were brought after an investigation led by Rear Adm. Joseph Castillo, commander of the 11th Coast Guard District.

Mike Neill, the attorney for the DeWeese family, said Anthony’s father said he was surprised that the charges were brought now, 10News reported.

Petty Officer Paul A. Ramos, the coxswain of the Coast Guard vessel that struck the boat carrying three families, is charged with involuntary manslaughter, aggravated assault, negligently hazarding a vessel and dereliction of duty.

Petty Officer Ian A. Howell is charged with negligent homicide, aggravated assault, negligently suffering a vessel to be hazarded and dereliction of duty.

Petty Officer Brittany N. Rasmussen is charged with negligent homicide, aggravated assault, and dereliction of duty.

Petty Officer Lavelle M. Teague is charged with dereliction of duty.

The Coast Guard previously reported the crew of its 33-foot boat was rushing to help a grounded boater when the Coast Guard vessel collided with the 24-foot Sea Ray, which had three families aboard as guests.

Neill told 10News that the bay was congested with boats — including numerous kayaks — and that the Coast Guard vessel was seen speeding earlier that night.

Dennis Schoville, an attorney for the Stannard family, which was also on the pleasure craft, said the official Coast Guard report on the collision has not been released, and one by the National Transportation Safety Board has not been completed.

“This case is very tragic for all involved, but there has to be accountability,” Schoville said.

His clients’ 4-year-old son — who was sitting next to Anthony at the time of the collision — suffered a fractured skull, but is making progress in his return to health, he said.

The charges against the Coast Guard sailors were brought under the Uniform Code of Military Justice. The defendants must appear at an Article 32 hearing, the military version of a preliminary hearing, but the date has not been determined.