JUNEAU, Alaska — A former Mount Desert Island man facing charges of negligent homicide, dereliction of duty and destroying military property in connection with the crash of a U.S. Coast Guard helicopter off the coast of Washington State in 2010 got some good news this week.
An investigating officer has recommended that the charges should be dismissed against Lt. Lance Leone, who was the co-pilot of the helicopter when it hit low-hanging power lines. Three men, including the pilot, died in the crash. Lt. Leone was severely injured.
Capt. Andrew Norris, who found that Lt. Leone was not blameless, wrote that “reasonable grounds” exist to believe Lt. Leone “committed the crime of negligent dereliction of duty” for not questioning or speaking up about the aircraft’s low altitude. However he doubted the government would be able to prove whether he protested the risky flight maneuvers.
Capt. Norris’ determination will now be reviewed by higher ranking officers.
Family members of at least one of the crash victims and many Coast Guard members have expressed outrage that Lt. Leone was ever charged at all.