A grand jury has added three felony counts to the criminal charges facing the former skipper of the Exxon Valdez.
Meanwhile, a worker was killed Monday aboard a ship housing workers involved in the cleanup of the massive oil spill caused by the wreck of the tanker.In Anchorage, Joseph Hazelwood was charged with three counts of second-degree criminal mischief, District Attorney Dwayne McConnell said.
The indictment accuses him of reckless actions before the 987-foot tanker ran aground on Bligh Reef. If convicted of all three, Hazelwood could be sentenced to up to 15 years in prison and fined $150,000, McConnell said.
Hazelwood, 42, of Huntington, N.Y., was charged in Valdez in late March with three misdemeanors: operating a boat while intoxicated, reckless endangerment and negligent pollution.
McConnell said the state will ask to have all the charges consolidated into a single trial. Hazelwood is free on $50,000 bail on the misdemeanor charges pending a June 20 trial. No date has been set for his arraignment on the felony charges in Superior Court.
Hazelwood's blood alcohol content was illegally high nearly 11 hours after the accident, the Coast Guard said. He had turned over control of the tanker to the third mate, who was not certified to pilot the ship in Prince William Sound.
Several crew members said at last week's National Transportation Safety Board hearings in Anchorage that they drank with Hazelwood before the ship left the Valdez terminal for the trans-Alaska pipeline. Others testified they smelled alcohol on his breath but said he didn't seem to be impaired.
On Monday, a food worker aboard one of the vessels housing cleanup workers in Prince William Sound was crushed by a freight elevator aboard the Coastal Star, a headquarters ship anchored about 55 miles southwest of Valdez, Coast Guard Chief Mark Kennedy said.
The victim's identity was being withheld until relatives could be notified.
Exxon has several thousand workers cleaning beaches in the sound and along the southern Alaska coast, most of them housed on ships like the Coastal Star. Exxon has leased more than 600 vessels for the cleanup.