Charter Boat Captain Sentenced

Monday, May 21, 2007
Richard J. Oba Caused the Death of Three Passengers in Boat Sinking An Oregon charter fishing boat captain was sentenced to 6 years imprisonment today in federal court in Portland. Richard J. Oba, of Winchester Bay, was the owner and captain of the Sydney Mae II, a 38 foot boat Oba used to conduct fishing charters. On September 19, 2005, Oba steered the boat into dangerous waters after being warned to stay away by the U. S. Coast Guard. The boat was struck by large wave and sunk off the Umpqua River Bar, killing three passengers. Oba had pled guilty to three counts of Seaman’s Manslaughter, in violation of 18 U.S.C. 1115.

The Honorable Ancer L. Haggerty, Chief Judge, agreed with prosecutors that Oba had acted recklessly, and upwardly departed to sentence Oba to 6 years.

The sentence is believed to be the longest ever in this type of case. The pilot of Staten Island Ferry, operating in waters off New York City, received a sentence of 18 months after he fell asleep at the helm and crashed his ferry into a pier, killing eleven. William Harris, age 57, of Springfield, Oregon; Virginia Strelow, age 63, of Reedsport, Oregon; and Paul Turner, age 76, of Boise, Idaho died as a result of the sinking of the Sydney Mae II on September 19, 2005. Oba and passenger Jim Parker, of Eugene, were plucked from the ocean after the accident by the men and women of the United States Coast Guard Station Umpqua River.

The case was investigated by the Coast Guard Investigative Service. Coast Guard Sector Portland also contributed to the investigation and prosecution. The case was prosecuted by Assistant U.S. Attorney Dwight C. Holton who was assisted by Special Assistant U.S. Attorney Aaron W. Reiman, United States Coast Guard.

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