By ELLIOT SPAGAT
SAN DIEGO – The driver of a boat said Monday a Coast Guard vessel was traveling “very fast” moments before slamming into his watercraft, killing his 8-year-old son and seriously injuring five other people.
Alan DeWeese, 44, of San Diego told The Associated Press he tried to get out of the way of the Coast Guard boat he estimated was traveling between 30 to 40 knots. DeWeese believes he was moving at 2 to 3 knots.
“I thought he was going to turn at some point,” DeWeese said. “He came up so fast I didn’t have time to react.”
Killed in the accident was DeWeese’s son, Anthony Cole DeWeese.
“He enjoyed life to the fullest,” his father said.
Two other children were taken to Rady Children’s Hospital, and three adults were transported to University of California, San Diego Medical Center, said Fire Department spokesman Maurice Luque.
Their conditions and ages were not immediately available. Seven others on board weren’t injured. No one was reported injured aboard the Coast Guard vessel.
The Coast Guard declined comment, citing an ongoing investigation.
The National Transportation Safety Board was sending four investigators to San Diego, said department spokesman Peter Knudson. They will examine damage to both vessels and determine whether there was any radio transmissions from the Coast Guard boat, Knudson said.
The 33-foot Coast Guard patrol boat was responding to a report of a grounded vessel on Sunday when the accident occurred while a Christmas watercraft parade was under way in San Diego Bay, authorities said. Neither boat was participating in the annual event that was expected to attract as many as 80,000 people.
DeWeese said the people aboard the 26-foot Sea Ray had just finished watching fireworks and were waiting for the parade to begin. He said he recalls hearing the Coast Guard boat coming from behind him but couldn’t estimate then its distance.
“He was the only boat that was going so fast in the harbor,” DeWeese said.
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