Pierce County prosecutors on Tuesday charged a Tacoma man in connection with a two-boat collision that critically injured two and left one passenger missing and presumed dead.
Joshua Puckett, 44, pleaded not guilty to one count of watercraft homicide and three counts of watercraft assault.
Superior Court Judge Thomas Larkin set bail at $75,000 after Puckett’s attorney noted 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.
Police arrested him after Saturday’s 11 p.m. crash near Point Defiance Park. Prosecutors took an extra day to review the case and obtain additional information.
Puckett and three passengers were riding in his 22-foot plastic Wellcraft boat when the crash occurred after the Freedom Fair fireworks show. None wore a life vest.
Vicki and Robert Brown of Graham, were motoring back to shore in their 17-foot aluminum Hewescraft boat when Puckett’s craft, going 40 to 45 miles per hour, drove into them, according to charging documents.
The Browns were traveling 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 remains missing.
Police said Douglas Foster, 47, of Portland, is presumed dead. The U.S. Coast Guard scoured 35 square miles overnight but did not find him.
Several liquor bottles floated in the water near Puckett’s boat after the crash, records show. Officers noted that he refused to take a sobriety test, had bloodshot eyes and slurred his speech.
One of Puckett’s passengers suffered a broken ankle. The Browns both suffered critical injuries, including an amputated arm and a broken neck vertebrae.
Puckett has a prior conviction for first-degree negligent driving, amended from an initial charge of driving under the influence, according to court records.