Luxury Yacht Captain Pleads Guilty in Death of Boater off Rhode Island Coast
PROVIDENCE, RI – The licensed captain who was at the helm of a 60-foot luxury yacht when it collided with a 23-foot powerboat in waters off the coast of Westerly, R.I., on September 22, 2015, that resulted in the death of the operator of the powerboat pleaded guilty in federal court in Providence today to a charge seaman’s manslaughter.
Cooper “Chick” Bacon, 79, of Cape May, N.J., was piloting the unregistered yacht, the Princess 60, from an indoor salon when it struck the powerboat. The collision resulted in the death of Walter S. Krupinski, 81, of Norwalk, Conn., the only person onboard the powerboat, the Peggy K.
Bacon had been hired to pilot the Princess 60 from Newport, R.I., to a boat show in Stamford, Conn.
According to information presented to the Court, GPS data collected from the GPS system aboard the Princess 60 indicated the yacht approached the powerboat at an average speed of 25.2 knots. The Princess 60 was equipped with an operating horn, VHF marine radiotelephone, navigation system, and radar system, among other safety equipment.
Prior to the collision, the defendant failed to take precautions required by the ordinary practice of a seaman. Bacon did not post his First Mate to lookout, did not make proper use of radar, and did not himself see the powerboat in time to avoid the collision. As a result of his failure to see the Peggy K, Bacon did not make passing arrangements, sound the horn, change course, slacken speed, or stop or reverse propulsion to avoid a collision.
After the collision, Bacon failed to make proper use of the VHF marine radiotelephone by notifying the United States Coast Guard of the emergency.
Mr. Krupinski died as a result of multiple blunt force injuries sustained when the 67,241-pound yacht ran up and over the open cockpit of the powerboat.
Bacon’s guilty plea before U.S. District Court Judge John J. McConnell, Jr., to seaman’s manslaughter is announced by United States Attorney Stephen G. Dambruch; Admiral Steven Poulin, Commander of the First Coast Guard District, United States Coast Guard; and Richard Cox, Special Agent in Charge of United States Coast Guard Investigative Service, New England Region.
Bacon is scheduled to be sentenced on January 17, 2019.
The case is being prosecuted by Assistant U.S. Attorney Gerard B. Sullivan.
The matter was investigated by the United States Coast Guard Investigative Service.
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