Cooper Bacon was found guilty of violating three Coast Guard navigation rules. The Viking Princess 60 hit a fishing boat off Rhode Island, killing 81-year-old Walter Krupinski
New Jersey captain, Cooper Bacon was piloting the Viking Princess 60 from the Newport Boat Show in Rhode Island to another show in Connecticut when the fatal accident happened in September 2015.
The 76-year-old has now been found guilty of violating three US Coast Guard navigation rules.
Fisherman Walter Krupinski, 81, died as a result of the accident, which happened off Westerly near Napatree Point, Rhode Island.
The US Coast Guard has always maintained that Bacon’s 60-foot motor yacht crashed into Krupinski’s 23-foot 989 Steiger Craft. At the time, the Viking Princess 60 was travelling at between 25-31 knots and had auto-navigation engaged.
Bacon, of Cape May Court House, had earlier pleaded not guilty to charges by the Rhode Island Department of Environmental Management’s Division of Law Enforcement of three violations of the US Coast Guard Rules of Navigation.
These included improper navigation or failure to have a lookout, failure to take action to avoid a collision and improper overtaking of another vessel.
Each of these violations carries a maximum fine of $100.
As reported in The Westerly Sun, Bacon always maintained that he had never seen the Steiger, “didn’t know what he had collided with and didn’t have time to turn his head and look or to navigate so to avoid the collision”.
He made a 911 call 15 minutes after the crash in which he said he hadn’t seen the boat and had expected to turn, and that the skipper of the Steiger “was likely not paying attention”.
The Rhode Island Traffic Tribunal Magistrate Domenic A. DiSandro II, who was given the case, said the court had rejected Bacon’s testimony on the stand about the turn of events that day.
“The facts clearly show that had he maintained a proper lookout or had taken action to avoid the collision, it would not have occurred. The Princess 60 was the overtaking vessel and if there was any doubt about that, Mr. Bacon should have assumed that he was in the overtaking position. He failed in these mandates,” he said.
Commenting after the verdict, Krupinski’s widow, Peggy, said she was pleased with the outcome.
“I didn’t know what was going to happen, but this is what I had hoped for,” she told The Westerly Sun.
“There was no mention of Wally doing anything wrong or ever being at fault, which puts my heart at peace. I’m very happy and I know a lot of fishermen in Stonington will be happy with this outcome too. I went home today after the judge’s decision feeling good,” she added.
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