DEM: Fatal boat crash could have been avoided

WPRI/Dave Wiggins

WESTERLY, R.I. (WPRI) — Investigators from the Rhode Island Department of Environmental Management have completed their investigation into a boat crash that claimed the life of a Connecticut fisherman back in September.

The DEM found it was the negligent operation of a yacht by a New Jersey captain that led to the collision off the coast of Westerly.

Walter Krupinski had finished fishing at about 9:30 a.m. on Sept. 22 and was headed back to shore when a 60-foot yacht plowed into his 23-foot boat, crushing and killing him.

Krupinski, 81, of Stonington, was pulled from the water following the crash. The cause of his death was determined to be blunt force injuries.

The victim's boat after it was towed to Dodson's Boatyard in Stonington, Conn. (WPRI/Dave Wiggins)
The victim’s boat after it was towed to Dodson’s Boatyard in Stonington, Conn. (WPRI/Dave Wiggins)

The yacht’s captain, 76-year-old Cooper Bacon, stated in the 911 call that he saw Krupinski’s boat but failed to slow down or change course in order to avoid the collision, according to the DEM. Investigators said Bacon also did not make an attempt to sound the horn to alert Krupinski of his presence.

The DEM said weather and visibility were not factors in the crash.

As a result of their investigation, the DEM found Bacon’s operation of his yacht did not rise to the level of reckless, but his negligence resulted in Krupinski’s death. He was charged with various navigation offenses, each of which carries a maximum $100 fine.

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