Boat operator could face charges after passenger dies

EVERETT — The operator of a boat that became swamped near Naval Station Everett last month, resulting in a death, could face misdemeanor charges.

Police allege that the 67-year-old man put his passengers in danger. They are seeking three counts of reckless endangerment. The offense is defined in Washington as creating a “substantial risk of death or serious physical injury to another person.”

The man’s 16-foot aluminum boat was in choppy open water near the Navy pier. It was the morning of July 1, the first day of crabbing season. The number of boaters out crabbing added to the poor conditions on the water, according to a search warrant filed in Everett Municipal Court.

Waves poured in over the bow, and then the side of the vessel as it turned, detective Sean Barentine wrote in the affidavit. All four occupants were sent overboard. They were rescued, but Mason Alvis, 42, of Marysville, was unconscious. He was taken to the hospital, where he died of natural causes.

His death was “a result of the accident,” Barentine wrote.

There were enough life jackets for everyone on board, but they weren’t worn, investigators found. The combined weight of the passengers and their gear also was over capacity for the boat.

Police allege the operator had a duty to make sure the vessel was safe. He was not required to have a boater education card because of his age. He is not suspected of being under the influence at the time.

Boating deaths have led to criminal investigations in Snohomish County over the past decade, but they rarely go to court.

Snohomish County sheriff’s detectives sought manslaughter charges in connection with a 2009 death on Lake Stevens. A woman was killed when her boat capsized. Police alleged that shoddy construction of the boat was a factor. Prosecutors declined to file charges against the boat builder, saying there wasn’t enough evidence to prove he was criminally liable. He later served time in prison for theft related to his sales business.

In 2010, a ski boat and a racing shell accidentally collided on Lake Stevens, killing the man in the shell. After a review of the case, no charges were filed.

Rikki King: 425-339-3449; rking@heraldnet.com. Twitter: @rikkiking.

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