Ship pilot pleads not guilty

John Cota, the pilot entrusted with navigating the container ship that struck the San Francisco Bay Bridge, pleaded not guilty Friday to charges of criminal negligence and violating environmental laws.

The 901-foot Cosco Busan ship side-swipped the bridge in November 2007 and spilled more than 50,000 gallons of bunker fuel into the bay. The corresponding spill left thousands of migratory birds coated with the gooey oil. At least 2,500 aquatic birds died in the spill and scientists speculate that thousands more succumbed and were never recovered.

See the San Francisco Chronicle story: Pilot at helm of Cosco Busan pleads not guilty