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Joseph Hazelwood
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Military Personnel
    (1946- )
    Graduate of the State University of New York Maritime College
    Captain of the oil tanker Exxon Valdez when it ran aground on Bligh Reef in Alaska's Prince William Sound (March 24, 1989)
    10.9 million gallons of crude oil was discharged, fouling 1,244 miles of coastline
    10% of the area's wildlife died - 50% of the season's catch of fish were killed (as were billions of salmon and herring eggs)
    Wildlife death toll estimates: 250,000 sea birds, 2,800 otters, 300 harbor seals, 250 bald eagles and up to 22 orcas
    Charged with felony criminal mischief and misdemeanor negligent discharge of oil, reckless endangerment and operating a vessel under the influence
    He smokes.
    He abuses alcohol.
    He had previous drunk driving arrests.
    He admits to having at least three alcoholic drinks before boarding the ship (again demonstrating that alcohol and seamen are a dangerous combination).
    He remained silent during his trial.
    When given the opportunity by a judge to apologize for his role in the disaster, he refused.
    He was convicted of negligence, fined $50,000, and sentenced to 1,000 hours of community service.
    He appealed the conviction for eight years but the verdict was upheld (July 8, 1998).
    When asked about his future plans he quoted: 'What am I going to do, write a book about a guy missing a turn? Books have a hero. I'm just a regular guy caught in a situation. There's a perception out there, and all the spin doctors in the world can't fix that perception. I'm not a bubbly person. I don't have an inner child I'm beating up. Go on Oprah? I just don't have it in me.'
    Ironically, he was given Exxon Fleet Safety Awards in 1987 and 1988.
    He was not the one who ran the ship aground. He was below deck doing paperwork.
    Because he was the ship's captain, he took the brunt of the blame, though several factors and crewmen were involved.
    His third mate was granted immunity against prosecution to testify against him, though it was his failure to execute the turn properly that caused the disaster.
    Salvage crews saved the ship from sinking and contained 80% of the oil, averting a much larger catastrophe.
    He is finished as a sea captain. Nobody in the shipping industry will hire him and the bad PR that is attached to him.
    The law firm that defended him helped secure a job for him in Long Island as a technical consultant for an marine insurance agency.
    His picture is mockingly used by movie villain Dennis Hopper as a 'patron saint' in the film 'Waterworld (1995).'

Credit: Scar Tactics

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