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Oregon: Staff judge advocate for U.S. Coast Guard wants capsizied fishing vessel case to be referred to U.S. Attorney’s Office for prosecution over cannabis use


KOIN 6

A year-long investigation into a deadly boat capsizing in February 2021 took a surprising turn as the U.S. Coast Guard released its findings in a town hall to the residents of Garibaldi, including members of the victims’ families.

“The totality of the circumstances in my opinion, was negligent,” said Capt. Christopher Coutu, a staff judge advocate for the U.S. Coast Guard. “I wanted the district commander to consider that and consider that and move it to the U.S. Attorney’s Office for prosecution.”

In February 2021, the Coastal Reign, a commercial fishing vessel, capsized while attempting to cross the bar at Tillamook Bay when returning from a days-long crabbing expedition.

The Coast Guard responded with rescue boats and a helicopter from Astoria, but two on the fishing vessel didn’t make it. Todd Chase and Zachary Zappone were killed when the boat capsized.

Investigators site survivor testimony and evidence found at the scene, saying marijuana was used by three of the four people on board, not including Chase but including the owner and operator of the boat Brandon Anderson, for a majority of the nearly 40-hour trip.

Investigators say one of the survivors told authorities they kept the use hidden from Chase while on the trip.

“The drug use and the last time they smoked marijuana was 30 minutes prior to crossing the bar,” said Coutu.