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Captain charged in offshore incident

Dec 12, 2018
Beaufort, N.C., where crew member David Pontius joined Rick Smith's yawl Cimarron.

Beaufort, N.C., where crew member David Pontius joined Rick Smith's yawl Cimarron.

Courtesy Old Bull

In an unusual case of a crew member being lost offshore, a Maine-based boat owner has been charged under a little-used Federal statute known as "seaman's manslaughter."  The unusual case has been brought against Camden resident Rick Smith, the owner/captain of a 43-foot yawl named Cimarron. Smith is under house arrest in the U.S. Virgin Islands and awaiting trial. 

In October 2015 Smith was heading south to the Virgin Islands with two other crew aboard Cimarron when he picked up a new crew member, David Pontius, in Beaufort, N.C.. During the passage from Beaufort to St. John, Pontius reportedly exhibited erratic behavior, assaulted Smith and then jumped overboard and was lost. Pontius' body was not recovered and Smith continued on to his destination.

Now Smith is facing Federal charges of "misconduct, negligence and inattention to duties." His boat has been impounded and he faces the possibility of 10 years in prison. A recent article in Maine's Portland Press Herald has more on this story.  

Edit Module

Jan 22, 2019 04:43 am
 Posted by  Mr Martin Watson

As I understand from a more expanded article, the Captain made no effort to effect a rescue, or drop a danbuoy or life ring, nor even make a mayday call by any means. That shows callous contempt for human life no matter how much animosity had been exhibited by either party, and that is why he is being charged, not for the loss of life, which was quite possibly impossible to prevent. He should have at least made a token effort to find the victim or notify the coastguard of the MOB.

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