Officer: Drop charges in Coast Guard crash

By Becky Bohrer

Associated Press

Published: Saturday, Jan. 7 2012 3:31 p.m. MST

It could be argued, he said, that had Leone advised Krueger that he was flying too low for the circumstances at one or several points in the flight that it may have helped dissuade Krueger from making "the snap, fatal decision" to fly over the Coast Guard vessel at low altitude. This in, turn, may have prevented the crash, he said. "Proceeding in accordance with this theory is the only way I can see to causally link the accused's derelictions with the crash and deaths," Norris wrote.

"However," he said, "I do not believe that the government could prove this link to a reasonable fact-finder, as it requires speculations and suppositions as to what Lt. Krueger may or may not have done in response to such advisements, if given, that are simply unknowable."

He said he doesn't believe that disciplinary action is warranted in that instance but said it could be addressed through training and other "non-punitive measures."

In testimony, the commanding officer of Air Station Sitka, Cmdr. William Cameron, said that if anything would have stopped the crash, it would have been stronger cockpit communication skills. But Cameron also said he didn't think Krueger would have listened had Leone spoken up about the drop in altitude, saying he believed Krueger, who also had a list of military service awards, was comfortable in what he was doing.

Cameron also said he was prepared to recommend that allegations against Leone be dropped, but said that decision was "somewhat overrun by events." In meeting with the new Coast Guard commander in Alaska, he said Ostebo suggested he may have "gotten too close emotionally to Lt. Leone or something like that,'" and lost objectivity. Cameron then outlined his reasoning in a memo.

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