Rescue efforts along the Mississippi River after a January barge collision near Luling turned to recovery operations after three crew members on one the towing vessel remained missing more than 24 hours after the accident. One crew member was reportedly picked up in the water by a private citizen in their boat on the water.
Events unfolded on Sunday, Jan. 26, at approximately 5:37 a.m. That’s when the U.S. Coast Guard (USCG) got notification that there had been a collision on the river near mile marker 123. Apparently, two towing vessels, the Cooperative Spirit and the RC Creppel, struck one another on the water.
Toxic emissions after collision
Preliminary reports indicate that the Cooperative Spirit was traveling upriver and entered a barge fleeting area where it impacted with the RC Creppel, another towing vessel.
Upon impact, the RC Creppel sank and some barges broke away from their moorings. The barges being propelled upriver were hauling sulfuric acid, and the USCG reported that vapor was released into the atmosphere.
Two miles of river traffic closed
The Coast Guard established a two-mile safety zone stretching from mile marker 121 to 123. This closed the area to vessels while the Center of Toxicology and Environmental Health conducted air monitoring. Also on the scene were officials with the St. Charles Parish Sheriff’s Office.
The cause of the accident has yet to be determined and the missing crew members’ names have not yet been revealed.
Dangers abound on the river
While cruising up or down the Mississippi River may seem picturesque and sound romantic, the fact is that this body of water is one of the largest and most dangerous rivers in the United States. Its underwater currents all too often prove lethal to even the strongest swimmers wearing life jackets.
In winter, the cold temperature of the river waters can quickly bring on hypothermia for any hapless victims of river accidents who manage to initially stay afloat.
Little warning of trouble ahead
Depending on weather conditions at the time and the vantage points of those aboard the river vessels, riverboat workers may have little or no warning that danger lies ahead. That’s why it is so vital for all workers to wear their life vests at all times when they are aboard these ships and barges.
Survivors can face obstacles to return to work
Even if you survive a river accident, your efforts to return to work on the river may be thwarted by lingering physical or psychological effects from the accident. Meanwhile, medical and other bills pile up and you need a source of income.
Seeking civil justice through the Louisiana court system is often the most expedient way to resolve your financial dilemmas.