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Fatal collision involving billionaire's yacht under investigation  1 Month ago

Source:   USA Today  

GREAT FALLS, Mont. – The U.S. Coast Guard is investigating a fatal collision that occurred in late October between a 332-foot yacht owned by Montana billionaire Dennis Washington and a 65-foot fishing boat that resulted in the death of a man and an injury to another.

The Attessa IV collided with the commercial fishing boat Prowler near San Diego on Oct. 26, according to the Coast Guard. The Attessa had contacted them about 7:50 p.m. about the collision that occurred about 9 miles offshore of Imperial Beach and near the maritime boundary line. There were 29 people aboard the two vessels, officials said.

Washington, founder of the Washington Cos. and owner of Montana Rail Link, was not on the Attessa IV at the time. Nor were any family members, reported.

A Coast Guard helicopter and two boats responded. The crew of a response boat transferred 17 passengers from the Prowler and took them to San Diego. Two injuries were reported on the Prowler.

The man who died, Richard Neff, 66, of San Clemente, California, had been airlifted off the boat and pronounced dead at a San Diego hospital from head trauma, officials said. Neff was a retiree who had worked 40 years in construction.

The Prowler sustained extensive damage to its starboard quarter, the Coast Guard reported. The captain of the Prowler remained with the boat, awaiting commercial salvage. The Coast Guard cutter Sea Otter stayed with him, officials said. 

The Attessa returned to San Diego with 10 passengers, the Coast Guard said.

A Coast Guard official said Thursday the investigation could take six months to a year to complete.

Washington Cos. Executive Vice President Tim McHugh said Thursday he was unable to comment at length as the incident is still be investigated by the Coast Guard and they are awaiting results.

"We are cooperating fully," he said, adding they also wanted more details as to what transpired.

The Missoula-based Washington Cos. website says its companies focus on marine and rail transportation, mining, heavy equipment distribution, environmental remediation and aviation technology and service.

Forbes lists Washington as "Montana's richest person" and puts his net worth at $5.9 billion. It also states he and his wife, Phyllis, have given $840 million to their foundation, which in turn has given about $300 million to nearly 1,000 groups.

The website Super Yacht Fan says the Attessa, originally built as Evergreen for Evergreen Shipping Line founder Chang Yu-fa, was “delivered” in 1999. It was sold to Washington in 2007, underwent 3½ years of renovation, and has a value of $150 million. It can accommodate 28 guests and has a crew of 21. 


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