SAN DIEGO – Two Canadian citizens were each sentenced in San Diego Monday to 30 months in federal prison for intentionally setting their sailboat on fire off the coast of Washington state, requiring the U.S. Coast Guard to rescue them from the Pacific Ocean.
“The actions of these individuals created a great danger to themselves and to the crew members of the cutter Steadfast,” said Rear Adm. Todd Sokalzuk, commander of the Eleventh Coast Guard District, headquartered in Alameda, California.
“The conviction and sentence demonstrate that the Coast Guard will seek to bring to justice those that endanger others on the open ocean,” he said.
Last Oct., 28, while on patrol in the Pacific, the Steadfast came into contact with Emerson Rome and Bradley Wise, both 31, about 200 nautical miles west of Willapa Bay, Washington.
The 31-year-old sailors — whose clothing later tested positive for methamphetamine — were aboard the Tarry-A-Bit, a 39-foot vessel capable of long-distance voyages.
When Coast Guard personnel approached the sailboat, one of the crewmembers began to light parts of the sailboat on fire, causing flames to sweep through the boat.
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While it was engulfed in flames, Rome and Wise tied over the rudder of the vessel, causing it to spin in circles and preventing the Coast Guard from easily putting out the blaze.
According to their plea agreements, Rome and Wise set the Tarry-A-Bit on fire to prevent the Coast Guard from boarding the sailboat. The crew of the Steadfast attempted to extinguish the fire, but burned to the waterline, the Tarry-A-Bit sank on its own and no contraband was recovered from the debris.