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Yacht captain faces manslaughter charge

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A New Jersey yacht captain has been barred by a Rhode Island judge from operating vessels while awaiting trial in the death of an 81-year-old boater off the coast of Westerly, Rhode Island.   

At a hearing Dec. 19, U.S. District Court Magistrate Patricia Sullivan ordered Capt. Cooper “Chick” Bacon, 78, to surrender his U.S. Coast Guard 100-ton Merchant Marine license and passport after he pleaded not guilty to a charge of manslaughter. According to news reports, Capt. Bacon’s public defender had argued to no avail that his client should be allowed to continue to work as a captain for hire during pendency of the case, saying that Capt. Bacon had captained boats for more than 50 years without an accident. Capt. Bacon was released on a $50,000 bond.

In September 2015, Bacon was piloting a 60-foot yacht from a Newport boat show to Stamford, Connecticut, when it collided with Walter Krupinski’s 23-foot powerboat in Fishers Island Sound. The Stonington, Connecticut, resident was alone on the boat and was killed in the crash.

On Dec. 6, a federal grand jury indicted Capt. Bacon on a single manslaughter charge, finding that he failed to take ordinary precautions, failed to adequately assess the risk of collision and operate at a safe speed, and failed to post a first mate to look out and properly steer clear of Krupinski’s boat. He faces up to 10 years in prison and a fine of up to $250,000, court officials said. A trial date has not yet been set.

In March, the Rhode Island Department of Environmental Management found Capt. Bacon guilty of improper navigation, failure to take action to avoid a collision and improper overtaking of another vessel. He faced a $300 fine in that ruling. Krupinski’s widow, Margaret, is suing Capt. Bacon and his mate that day, William Noe, also of New Jersey, for wrongful death, according to news reports.

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