Boat operator charged in July collision on Choptank

September 10, 2005|By Candus Thomson | Candus Thomson,SUN STAFF

The operator of a cabin cruiser that struck a fishing boat anchored at the mouth of the Choptank River in July has been charged with six violations of Maryland maritime laws and regulations.

Keith David Price, 42, of Landenburg, Pa., is accused of negligence and unsafe boat handling in charging documents filed by Natural Resources Police in Easton District Court.

Several people fishing aboard the Jil Carrie were injured, and one was thrown overboard, when Price's 53-foot cabin cruiser, Price Pirate, rammed the stern of the charter boat at noon July 7.

Price has been charged with operating a boat in a reckless or dangerous manner, negligence, speeding, failure to maintain a proper lookout, failure to take all risk-assessment measures and failure to take appropriate action in a narrow channel. If convicted, he could be fined up to $2,700 and be sentenced to up to 30 days in jail.

The Coast Guard is reviewing the accident and may file federal charges.

"We are pleased to hear the news," said JoAnne Zawitoski, the attorney for Jil Carrie captain Jim Brincefield. "The wheels of justice grind slowly, but they do grind."

Price did not return a call seeking comment.

Price told police he was northbound near the mouth of the river and did not see the Jil Carrie until it was too late to avoid the collision. In an interview earlier this summer with The Sun, Price said the charter boat was at fault for anchoring in the channel.

However, eyewitnesses said the Jil Carrie was not anchored in the channel and that Price did not appear to be at the wheel when the accident occurred.

"There was no way [Price] could not have seen him if he was at the helm," said Ed Woods of Gaithersburg, who was fishing nearby on his boat. "I think he knew he hit something, but he didn't see what he hit, in my opinion."

Visibility that day was at least 3 miles, the water was calm and wind was light, according to the police report.

Charter skipper Bill Fish, who was fishing nearby, estimated Price's speed at 25 knots, or about 28 mph, charging documents say. Fish also told police that the Price Pirate did not deviate from its course after the collision.

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