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Captain pleads guilty to seaman’s manslaughter

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Capt. Cooper “Chick” Bacon, 79, of Cape May, New Jersey, pleaded guilty to a charge of seaman’s manslaughter in federal court in Providence, Rhode Island, on Oct. 30.

Capt. Bacon was at the helm of a Princess 60 yacht when it collided with the Peggy K, a 23-foot powerboat, off Westerly, Rhode Island, in September 2015. The crash killed Walter S. Krupinski, an 81-year-old resident of Stonington, Connecticut, who had been returning home from a day of fishing. He was the only person aboard the Peggy K.   

Capt. Bacon had been hired to pilot the yacht from Newport to a boat show in Stamford, Connecticut. GPS data collected from aboard the yacht indicated it had approached the powerboat at an average speed of 25.2 knots, according to court records. The yacht was equipped with an operating horn, VHF marine radiotelephone, navigation system and radar system, among other safety equipment.

According to the U.S. attorney’s office in Rhode Island, Capt. Bacon failed to take required precautions such as posting his first mate to lookout and proper use of radar, and did not himself see the Peggy K in time to avoid a collision. He did not make passing arrangements, sound the horn, change course, slow down or reverse propulsion to avoid the collision, the U.S. attorney’s office stated. Capt. Bacon also is accused of failing to notify the U.S. Coast Guard following the fatal incident.

Capt. Bacon is scheduled to be sentenced Jan. 17, 2019.

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