Coast Guard blames crew in fatal San Diego crash


Coast Guardsmen didn’t follow proper procedures and were driving at speeds that were “excessive for safe operation” when their vessel overran a Sea Ray at the 2009 San Diego Parade of Lights, killing an 8-year-old boy and injuring 10.

The Coast Guard released comprehensive results of its investigation into the high-profile accident, saying that “a poor command climate at the Coast Guard Station San Diego” was one of the additional contributors to the crash.

The memo also says the Coast Guard boat operator not only failed to drive his boat safely, but the crew also failed to perform its duties and failed to follow standard risk management.

As a result, the memo mandated five actions, including:

• A review of existing risk management policy

• Adding case studies to the service’s command cadre

• A boat operator training curriculum to ensure lessons learned from the collision are ingrained in students to prevent a similar incident in the future

“No words or deeds can atone for the death of a young boy, or for the pain caused to his family; we can only affirm our resolve to ensure nothing like this happens again,” Vice Adm. John P. Currier, vice commandant of the Coast Guard, said in a statement.

The purpose of the investigation was to identify and better understand the factors that led to the collision and what can be done to prevent future accidents.

A Coast Guard 33-foot special purpose law enforcement craft was responding to a report of a grounded sailing vessel in the harbor when it collided with a 24-foot Sea Ray recreational boat carrying 13 people in San Diego Harbor.

Three Coast Guardsmen aboard the small boat were tried by court martial and found guilty of violations of the Uniform Code of Military Justice.

The boat driver was found guilty of dereliction of duty on May 23, 2011, reduced in rank and sentenced to three months in the U.S. Naval Brig, Miramar, Calif.

The other two crewmembers were also found guilty of dereliction of duty and received punishment ranging from 30 days confinement to quarters and forfeiture of rank and pay to a letter of reprimand.

Additional crash coverage in Soundings:

NTSB cites speed in fatal Coast Guard crash

Court-martials set in Coast Guard crash

Two charges dropped in Coast Guard crash

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Boat design questioned in crash hearing

Coast Guard charges its own in boy’s death