Maine charter captain acquitted in crewman’s death at sea

Rick Smith, of Camden, had been charged with negligence contributing to crewman David Pontious's death.

CAMDEN, Maine (AP) — A federal judge has acquitted a Maine charter boat captain of seaman’s manslaughter in connection with the death of a crew member.

Judge Curtis Gomez of the U.S. District Court of the Virgin Islands granted the acquittal to Rick Smith on Wednesday. Smith is a 65-year-old charter captain from Camden who had been charged with negligence contributing to the death of 54-year-old crewman David Pontious.

Pontious was aboard Smith’s boat in October 2015 when it was sailing from Maine to the Virgin Islands. The Portland Press Herald reports Pontious became seasick and started acting erratically, and had a standoff with Smith in which Pontious attempted to choke Smith before jumping over the side of boat. Pontious never resurfaced, and an investigation revealed Smith didn’t search for him.

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Smith wasn’t charged until 2½ years later.

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