Coast Guard schedules hearing on San Diego boat collision charges

ALAMEDA, Calif. – The Coast Guard will conduct an investigative hearing Tuesday for three crewmembers from Coast Guard Station San Diego charged with offenses under the Uniform Code of Military Justice in connection with their involvement in the December 20, 2009 collision between a Coast Guard Station San Diego small boat and a civilian boat in San Diego Bay that resulted in the death of a child and the injury of other passengers on the civilian boat.

The investigative hearing, referred to as an Article 32 hearing, is similar to a preliminary hearing or a grand jury in a civilian criminal case. Under Article 32 of the UCMJ, the investigation is used to examine the sufficiency of the evidence and to recommend a forum for disposition. After the hearing, the Investigating Officer will submit a recommendation to Rear Adm. Joseph Castillo, the convening authority for this case, who will determine how the case shall proceed.

The hearing, to be held at the 11th Coast Guard district headquarters in Alameda, will review the following alleged violations of Articles of the UCMJ:

  • Petty Officer 3rd Class Paul A. Ramos, the boat coxswain, is charged with involuntary manslaughter (Article 119), aggravated assault (Article 128), hazarding a vessel (Article 110), and dereliction of duty (Article 92);
  • Petty Officer 2nd Class Ian M. Howell, Station San Diego Officer of the Day, is charged with negligent homicide (Article 134), aggravated assault (Article 128), suffering a vessel to be hazarded (Article 110), and dereliction of duty (Article 92); and,
  • Petty Officer 3rd Class Brittany N. Rasmussen, boat crewman, is charged with negligent homicide (Article 134), aggravated assault (Article 128), and dereliction of duty (Article 92).

A fourth boat crewman, Petty Officer 3rd Class Lavelle M. Teague, is charged with dereliction of duty (Article 92); however, his case will not be a part of this Article 32 investigation hearing.

It bears noting that UCMJ charges are merely accusations and an accused person is presumed innocent unless proven guilty.

To protect the rights of the accused, and out of respect for the rights and privacy of everyone affected by the tragic accident, no additional details about the investigation or pending legal matters may be released at this time.

The UCMJ is a body of criminal laws that applies to all members of the armed forces.

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