Coast Guard: Crew to be tried in deadly CA crash

The Coast Guard has ordered three petty officers to stand trial in a San Diego Bay crash that killed an 8-year-old boy during a holiday boat parade, an official said Wednesday.

Rear Adm. Joseph R. Castillo ordered the courts-martial after reviewing a report by the investigating officer, Lt. Cmdr. Rick Foster said. That report concluded there was no legal justification for the Dec. 20, 2009, crash, the Los Angeles Times has reported.

The Coast Guard boat was responding to reports of a grounded vessel when it collided with the pleasure boat carrying the boy. A second child has largely recovered after suffering serious head injuries.

Petty Officers Paul A. Ramos, the commander of the boat, Ian M. Howell and Brittany N. Rasmussen have pleaded not guilty in military court. They blamed the crash on mechanical defects, poor training and lax leadership.

Ramos faces a charge of involuntary manslaughter, punishable by up to 10 years in prison if he is convicted. Howell and Rasmussen are charged with negligent homicide and could spend up to one year in prison if found guilty.

A military judge will be appointed and set a trial date.

A fourth crew member, Petty Officer Lavelle M. Teague, was charged with dereliction of duty. His case was being handled administratively, with punishment that could include up to 30 days of correctional custody, reductions in rank, forfeitures of pay, and restriction to base.

Calls left for attorneys representing the boy's family and some of the petty officers were not immediately returned.

(This version CORRECTS Corrects maximum possible sentence for Howell and Rasmussen to one year instead of three. Clarifies 2nd graf to say report was from investigating officer. Adds Los Angeles Times attribution.)