ALAMEDA (KRON) — Officials say 19-year-old Coast Guard seaman Ethan Tucker was arrested Wednesday on the Alameda base in connection with the January beating death of a shipmate in Alaska.
Tucker is accused of killing another 19-year-old seaman, Ethan Kelch.
The two were both assigned to a Kodiak Alaska based cutter at the time of Kelch’s death.
“Both individuals were on a Coast Guard cutter that was awaiting repairs in Dutch Harbor,” Sr. Chief Petty Officer Nyx Cangemi said. “They had liberty, they had some time away from the ship. One member did not come back from the ship. They started to search for him and they discovered him on January 27 unresponsive along the shore of Alaska.”
According to an official charging document, Tucker caused blunt force trauma to Kelch’s head, and placed or left him in water.
It also says he provided a false official statement when he said he did not strike Kelch and that he injured his hand by punching a steel bulkhead after learning of Kelch’s death.
Kelch’s family released a statement that said in part, that he “joined the coast guard because he had an overwhelming desire to save lives. His death was a tragic accident and our family and friends are incredibly devastated. we love him and will miss him forever.”
During the investigation, Tucker was reassigned to the Alameda base in June.
He was moved to the Naval Consolidated Brig Miramar in San Diego after his arrest on Wednesday where he will soon undergo a series of pre-trial confinement hearings.
“Our sympathy goes out to the families,” Cangemi said. “We know this is a very trying and difficult time for both the accused and the victim and our hearts go out to them.”