Captain indicted on manslaughter charge in fatal Westerly boat crash

The bigger of the two boats involved in the crash. (WPRI / Perry Russom)

PROVIDENCE, R.I. (WPRI) — A New Jersey boat captain is being charged with killing a Connecticut man by causing a crash off the coast of Westerly more than two years ago.

A grand jury handed up an indictment Wednesday charging Cooper “Chick” Bacon with seaman’s manslaughter.

The indictment alleges Bacon was operating his 60-foot yacht on autopilot and not paying attention when he crashed into Walter Krupinski’s 23-foot fishing boat in Sept. 2015.

Krupinski, 81, of Stonington, died from injuries suffered in the crash. Bacon was not injured.

Bacon’s yacht was en route from Newport to Stanford, Connecticut and traveling about 25 knots when it began to overtake Krupinski’s boat, according to the indictment. The two vessels then collided on the waters off Napatree Point.

The indictment claims Bacon, who was 76 at the time, failed to:

  • Take precautions required by the ordinary practice of seamen
  • Adequately assess the risk of collision
  • Proceed at a safe speed
  • Post his First Mate to lookout
  • Maintain a proper lookout
  • Make proper use of radar and adequately maintain watch on radar
  • Make passing arrangements on VHF marine radiotelephone channel 16
  • Give at least five short and rapid blasts on the horn
  • Properly overtake Krupinski’s boat
  • Give way to Krupinski’s boat
  • Steer well clear of Krupinski’s boat
  • Slacken speed or stop or reverse propulsion to avoid hitting Krupinski’s boat
  • Notify the Coast Guard of the emergency

Similarly, the R.I. Department of Environmental Management investigated the crash last year and found it was Bacon’s negligence that caused the crash.