A tugboat operator, indicted for criminally negligent homicide in relation to a fatal Tennessee fishing boat accident, has pleaded not guilty to the charges. In fact, Warren Luetke did not even show up at the arraignment hearing, and his attorney entered a plea on his behalf. The accident in question occurred last year when Luetke was operating a 647-foot tugboat barge combination on the Tennessee River. The towboat crashed into a fishing boat. There were three men in the fishing vessel, and two of them died. According to reports from emergency dispatchers at the time, the men had been napping in their vessel, when the towboat-barge combination crashed into the fishing boat. According to official reports, the towboat operator simply ran over the boat, and didn't stop until investigators from the Tennessee Wildlife Resources Agency flagged him down. The maritime attorneys at our firm have been following developments arising out of this case. In December, the owner of the tugboat, Serodino Incorporated had filed papers, claiming that the deaths of the two fishermen in the accident were not due to neglect on the part of the company. In fact, the company has held all along that this fatal towboat accident was the fault of the fishermen themselves. In 2009, the same tugboat, the Bearcat had been involved in another accident. A man from North Carolina was killed in that collision. In that case too, Serodino denied that it was responsible for the death.
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