Boater says Coast Guard vessel going 'too fast' before fatal crash on San Diego Bay
A boater who was in San Diego Bay when a Coast Guard patrol boat collided with a pleasure boat, killing an 8-year-old boy and injuring five others, said the Coast Guard vessel was going “too fast” in crowded waters during a Christmas boat festival.
Sromalla told The Times he feared the Coast Guard vessel was going to hit his boat.
Sromalla said his group was watching a fireworks show when at about 5:45 p.m they heard a call for a “vessel assist” on a radio scanner they had aboard the sailboat. The Coast Guard has said that the patrol boat was in the area because of such a call.
“After another five minutes," Sromalla said, "this Coast Guard vessel comes at us from behind."
There were 13 people aboard the pleasure craft when it collided with the Coast Guard boat at about 6 p.m. during the Parade of Lights, which features fireworks and a parade of boats decked out in holiday lights and decorations. Anthony Cole DeWeese, 8, was pronounced dead shortly after the crash.
Federal investigators have begun interviewing the five crew members aboard the Coast Guard boat. Peter Knudson, a spokesman for the National Transportation Safety Board, which investigates such incidents, said investigators are also waiting for the results of alcohol and drug tests that were administered to the crew members on Sunday.
He said investigators were downloading electronic information from the patrol boat’s navigation system to “determine the time, track [position] and speed” of the craft when it collided with the pleasure boat. Authorities were also examining both craft, looking for “signature marks” that might explain the angle and force at which the boats collided, Knudson said.
Investigators are planning to speak with eyewitnesses and are hoping to find video of the crash, either from someone on a nearby boat who may have shot the incident or from a stationary surveillance camera that may have caught the event, Knudson said.
-- Ari B. Bloomekatz
Photo: Coast Guard spokesman Lt. Josh Nelson discusses the crash during a news briefing. Credit: John R. McCutchen / Associated Press