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Boater charged with waterfront homicide in holiday crash

A 44-year-old Washington man was charged with waterfront homicide after the boat he was operating slammed into another on the Fourth of July, presumably killing a man and critically injuring two other people.

Joshua Puckett, 44, of Tacoma, pleaded not guilty Tuesday to one count of watercraft homicide and three counts of watercraft assault. Bail was set at $75,000 after Puckett’s attorney noted that he has ties to the community and is caring for his mother, who has terminal cancer.

Puckett must wear an alcohol-monitoring device if he posts bail, according to The News Tribune.

Vicki and Robert Brown, of Graham, Wash., were motoring back to shore in their 17-foot aluminum Hewescraft when Puckett’s 22-foot Wellcraft, going 40 to 45 miles an hour, drove into them, according to charging documents. The Browns were traveling at 10 to 15 mph.

The impact threw Puckett and his three passengers into Puget Sound. A passing vessel picked up Puckett and two of his passengers. The fourth person remains missing. No one was wearing a personal flotation device. Police said Douglas Foster, 47, of Portland, is presumed dead. The Coast Guard searched 35 square miles, but did not find him.

Several liquor bottles floated in the water near Puckett’s boat after the crash, according to the newspaper, which cited police records. Officers noted that he refused to take a sobriety test, had bloodshot eyes and slurred his speech.

Vicki Brown, 54, had her right arm amputated and doctors are tending to her broken clavicle. Robert Brown, 55, suffered a tear on his brain and on Tuesday had metal plates put into his face because of a broken eye socket.

Police arrested Puckett after the collision.

“My parents’ lives are changed forever,” one of the Graham couple’s daughters, Robynn Bradshaw, told the newspaper in a separate article.