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Chattanooga Jury Acquits Towboat Captain In Fatal Crash

Chattanooga Jury Acquits Towboat Captain In Fatal Crash

CREATED May 20, 2014

CHATTANOOGA, Tenn. (AP) - A jury in Chattanooga has acquitted a towboat pilot of all charges stemming from a collision with a fishing boat that killed two men.

Charles Warren Luetke faced charges of negligent homicide, reckless operation of a boat and failure to render aid in the 2010 incident that killed 52-year-old Richard Wilkey of Soddy-Daisy and 45-year-old Tim Spidle of Elizabethton.

Wilkey's nephew, David "Chris" Wilkey, survived the June 19, 2010 crash when the 671-foot barge tow struck the 16-foot-long fishing boat.

Media reported that jurors deliberated for less than an hour Monday before returning with the verdict.

Prosecutors said Luetke wasn't paying enough attention while piloting the towboat. The defense said the men in the fishing boat had been drinking, and that led to their death.

(Copyright 2014 by The Associated Press. All Rights Reserved.)