A fisherman pleaded not guilty Monday in Ketchikan Superior Court to manslaughter and criminally negligent homicide. The two charges against 32-year-old Joshua Wodyga stem from a crew member’s death last fall while diving for sea cucumbers near Ketchikan.
Levi Adams of Kansas was declared dead at Ketchikan Medical Center on Oct. 8 after he was transported there from the F/V Ostrich.
In court on Monday, District Attorney Steve West said that Adams died from carbon monoxide poisoning, and West blamed the air compressor.
“The air compressor he used has a plate permanently attached to it that says not for human use,” he said. “The instructions specifically say don’t use this for breathing – that’s what he was using it for. And the mechanic went over it and said the defendant did a terrible job maintaining it.”
Superior Court Judge Trevor Stephens set a trial date for June 3, and asked the attorneys for bail suggestions. Diane Tobin, representing Wodyga for Monday’s arraignment, asked for a low bail of $500. She said that while the charges are serious, Adams’ death was accidental. Tobin noted that Wodyga has close ties to the community and is not a flight risk.
“This is a responsible young man,” she said. “He is in a relationship, tantamount to a marriage. He has a 2-year-old daughter, he also has a 10-year-old daughter from a past relationship. They are very important people in his life.”
Judge Stephens set bail at $1,000 cash, and appointed the state Public Defender Agency to represent Wodyga. The next scheduled hearing in the case is April 2at 1 p.m.