Chattanooga: Tugboat operator indicted in barge deaths

Chattanooga: Tugboat operator indicted in barge deaths

February 11th, 2011 by Beth Burger in Local Regional News

A grand jury has indicted a tugboat operator on two counts of criminally negligent homicide in connection with the deaths of two fishermen whose boat was hit by a barge last summer.

Warren Luetke, 39 was negligent as the tugboat operator for the Bearcat, a 647-foot long commercial tug owned by Chattanooga-based Serodino Inc., when the barge collided with a fishing boat occupied by three men, according to the indictment filed Wednesday and Times Free Press archives.

Tim Spidle, 45, of Elizabethton and Richard Wilkey, 52, of Soddy-Daisy were both killed in the June 19 incident, which took place on the Tennessee River.

Luetke also faces charges of reckless operation of a boat and rendering of assistance after he did not stop until authorities flagged him down, the indictment said.

Luetke was arrested this afternoon and already has posted a $5,000 bond.

For complete details, see tomorrow's Times Free Press.