Local U.S. Coast Guard officials wrapped up their investigation into a fatal passenger ferry and pleasure craft crash in January 2007, which occurred about one and a half nautical miles west of Cruz Bay.
The Native Son Express, a U.S. Coast Guard registered vessel, and a 30-foot motor boat with four passengers collided around 8:30 p.m. January 28, 2007.
Both the Native Son captain and the owner of the pleasure craft were found to be responsible for the collision. The case is now in the hands of USCG officials in the Washington, D.C. headquarters, who will decide final disposition, according to USCG spokesperson Ricardo Castrodad.
The pleasure craft capsized after the collision and U.S. citizen Patrick Ostheimer, 35, went missing for more than 24 before his body was eventually found trapped inside the motor boat.
At the time of the crash, the Native Son Express was only carrying crew members, who pulled three of the four passengers from the pleasure craft to safety.
A search for the missing fourth passenger ensued that evening, but was called off after six dives proved fruitless. Additional searches the following day also ended without locating the missing passenger.
The motor boat was eventually towed to a V.I. National Park mooring buoy in preparation for righting the vessel the following day, January 30. That morning, personnel from salvage company Sea Tow righted the pleasure craft and found Ostheimer’s body trapped inside.
St. Thomas-based USCG officials recommended two enforcement actions, one against the Native Son ferry and one against the pleasure craft owner, Castrodad explained.
“The action against the ferry captain is suspension of license proceedings which can range from no action to a license being suspended, or in the worst case, permanently revoked,” said Castrodad. “The civil penalty case against the motor boat is to see if a fine is imposed.”