NEWPORT – The Rhode Island Department of Environmental Management (DEM) announced no wrongdoing in a fatal boating collision that occurred on Aug. 11 and resulted in the death of a Tiverton resident. Sandra G. Tartaglino, 60, was killed when her two-person catamaran sailboat collided with a powerboat near the Pell Bridge during the New England 100 Regatta in Narragansett Bay.
DEM’s investigation, which also included participation from the United States Coast Guard and the Newport Police Department, found that Frank Texeira, 75, of Portsmouth, was “not speeding or operating his 28-foot cruiser, named ‘@Last,’ in reckless disregard for the safety of others.”
“Environmental Police Officer (EPO) Kevin Snow and Lieutenant Daniel White of DEM’s Division of Law Enforcement led the investigation,” a press release from DEM announcing the findings reads. “Four law enforcement officers from three different agencies – the United States Coast Guard, DEM, and the Newport Police Department – did not observe any indication of alcohol or drug use. Officers did not see or find any alcohol containers on Teixeira’s boat. Investigators found that excessive speed was not a factor in the collision.”
“DEM presented the case to the Office of Attorney General, which shares DEM’s conclusion that the facts and circumstances do not rise to the level of criminal conduct,” the release continues. “In order to charge a felony – namely Operating So As to Endanger – Resulting in Death – it would have to be proven that the operator intended or foresaw the consequence, knew his actions were wrong but proceeded anyway, or willingly acted recklessly knowing it would cause a death.”
The department, however, is citing Texeira with four violations of the Coast Guard’s Inland Navigational Rules, including risk of collision, action to avoid collision, responsibilities between vessels and failure to keep a look-out. Each violation carries a maximum fine of $100. DEM will prosecute the case in the Rhode Island Traffic Tribunal.
“Every vessel shall at all times maintain a proper look-out by sight and hearing as well as by all available means appropriate in the prevailing circumstances and conditions so as to make a full appraisal of the situation and of the risk of collision,” state the USCG rules.
“My heart goes out to the Tartaglino family who has suffered a terrible loss,” said DEM Director Janet Coit. “Boating on a crowded waterway in the summertime is very complicated and requires vigilance. Further, while there are rules governing the action of each vessel, some vessel operators either don’t know or follow the rules. That is why DEM urges all boaters to take a safety course.”
The State of Rhode Island implemented a mandatory boating safety course for all boaters in 1986.