A Cushing boat captain is scheduled to plead guilty next week to causing the death of two of his crew members when his boat sank four years ago.
Christopher A. Hutchinson, 30, is scheduled to appear in U.S. District Court in Portland Sept. 25 and plead guilty to two counts of seaman’s manslaughter, according to a plea agreement filed in court last week.
Hutchinson is charged with causing the death of his two crew members, Tyler Sawyer, 15, of St. George and Waldoboro, and Tom Hammond, 27, of Rockland, when his lobsterboat, No Limits, sank 20 miles off the coast of Port Clyde Nov. 1, 2014.
Sawyer and Hammond were never found.
Prosecutors are recommending that Hutchinson serve two years in prison followed by three years of supervised release. As part of the agreement, Hutchinson has agreed to the set of facts set forth by the prosecution.
The prosecution alleges that on the day before the Nov. 1, 2014, fishing trip, Hutchinson illegally purchased 20 30-milligram oxycodone pills, smoked marijuana, and drank a rum and coke at a Halloween party in Rockland before departing with Sawyer and Hammond on No Limits at 1 a.m. from a dock in Tenants Harbor.
The National Weather Service issued a gale warning for Nov. 1 — a Saturday — through the following Monday, but Hutchinson allegedly told Sawyer’s father that he thought there would be enough time to haul his traps and get home, according to court documents.
After deciding to head back into port, Hutchinson said that the boat capsized stern over bow while he was “surfing” waves, according to documents. Hutchinson escaped from the overturned boat and swam back to it, where he clung onto a cooler for an hour or two until the boat rolled and the life raft, as well as the emergency position indicating radio beacon (EPIRB), popped up.
Around 1:20 p.m., the EPIRB alerted that the No Limits had sunk. Hutchinson was rescued from the life raft later that afternoon.
A judge ruled that a drug test taken from Hutchinson before he left Maine Medical Center in Portland on the evening of Nov. 1 could not be used in court. However, the prosecution said Sawyer’s father would testify at trial that Hutchinson told him twice that he was “dirty” during Nov. 1 trip.
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