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3 months in brig for CG boat operator in wreck

Mar. 23, 2011 - 03:00PM   |   Last Updated: Mar. 23, 2011 - 03:00PM  |  
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CG petty officer acquitted in manslaughter case (March 22)

ALAMEDA, Calif. — A Coast Guard petty officer was sentenced Wednesday to three months in the brig for his role in a boat collision in San Diego Bay that killed an 8-year-old boy.

The seven-member jury gave Petty Officer 3rd Class Paul Ramos the maximum term of confinement, as well as a reduction in rank and pay, after finding him guilty Tuesday of dereliction of duty for failure to conduct a risk assessment.

Ramos, 22, was piloting a 33-foot patrol craft during San Diego's annual Christmas Parade in 2009 when it crashed into a boat piloted by Anthony DeWeese's father. The child was killed, and five other people were injured.

Jurors acquitted Ramos of the most serious charge he faced — involuntary manslaughter — which would have carried a maximum sentence of 10 years. They also found him not guilty of three other charges: negligent homicide, aggravated assault and hazarding a vessel.

During the two-week court-martial at Coast Guard headquarters, prosecutors said Ramos was driving too fast and failed to follow safety procedures. The defense maintained he was going at a safe speed and that DeWeese's boat wasn't properly lit.

Ramos told jurors during the sentencing hearing that he joined the Coast Guard because he loves helping people, and that he lives with "so much remorse" for what happened the night of the fatal collision.

"There is nothing I can do, no matter how hard I try, that can bring Anthony back, or change any part of that fateful evening," he said in a statement. "All I can do is ask your forgiveness and, more importantly, the forgiveness of the DeWeese family."

Mike Neil, an attorney for the DeWeese family, said the family is moving forward with a negligence and wrongful death lawsuit against the government and believes the dereliction of duty charge could help their case in civil court.

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