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Chattanooga tugboat operator indicted in deaths of fishermen

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Warren Luetke Warren Luetke

HAMILTON COUNTY, TN. (Times Free Press)-- A grand jury indicted a tugboat operator on two counts of criminally negligent homicide in connection with the deaths of two fishermen whose boat was hit by a barge last summer, according to court records.

Warren Luetke, 39, was negligent as the tugboat operator for the Bearcat, owned by Chattanooga-based Serodino Inc., when the 647-foot tugboat-barge combination collided with a fishing boat occupied by three men, according to the indictment filed Wednesday and previous Times Free Press archives.

Tim Spidle, 45, of Elizabethton, Tenn., and Richard Wilkey, 52, of Soddy-Daisy, were killed in the June 19 accident on the Tennessee River in Chickamauga Lake after they were fishing on a 1977 16-foot Glastron.

Now more than six months later, after investigators with the Tennessee Wildlife Resources Agency consulted with the Hamilton County district attorney's office, criminal charges were filed.

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