One man is dead and at least two people are missing in a tug boat crash on the Hudson River between Rockland and Westchester counties, reports CBS. The river crash happened at 5.20 a.m. on 12 March. The 90-foot tug, named the Specialist, crashed into a river barge near the Tappan Zee Bridge. The victims of the crash have not been named.
One person was “pulled from the crash at around 5:30 and was pronounced dead once on shore, according to officials. At least two others are still missing…” The boat has sunk 40 feet into the river since the crash. It was on its way down the Hudson River from Albany to Jersey City. The Coast Guard and the New York Police Department both have teams at the scene.
Large tug boats such as the Specialist can carry between 90,000 and 190,000 gallons of fuel, according to the National Oceanic and Atmospheric Association. Approximately 5,000 gallons of oil from the stricken boat has already leaked into the Hudson River and a “spill team” is on its way to the crash scene.
The Tappan Zee Bridge carries seven lanes of traffic across the Hudson between South Nyack and Tarrytown; the barge is owned by a company involved in constructing a replacement bridge. The Rockland County Executive, Ed Day, spoke about the Hudson River crash in statement, according to CBS.
This morning’s deadly tugboat accident near the new Tappan Zee Bridge only highlights the dangerous work of those involved in such a massive construction project…our thoughts and prayers are with the victims, their families and the brave first responders involved in the difficult rescue and recovery.
According to The New York Times, “the [NYPD] provided two helicopters and two search boats, though a spokesman said those units had returned to their command posts by later in the morning.” It is not yet known whether the victims were working on the tug boat or in construction on the bridge.
The cause of this morning’s crash is not yet known, but this is not the first time a tug boat has been involved in an accident on this particular stretch of the Hudson River.
“In 2013, a bride-to-be and her fiancé’s best man were killed near the building site, when a boat they were aboard struck a Tappan Zee construction barge. The boat’s driver had been drunk, prosecutors said, and after pleading guilty to vehicular manslaughter, he was sentenced to two years in prison in 2014.”
The Tappan Zee Bridge is over 60 years old and carries almost 140,000 vehicles across the Hudson River each day. It is rapidly deteriorating and the replacement bridge is due for completion in 2018.
Westchester County Police spokesman Kieran O’Leary said that the Specialist was pushing a barge along the Hudson River when it crashed into the stationary barge, according to ABC.
It is not known what cargo was on board the barge pulled by the tug boat, but an increasing number of oil-transporting barges along the river is causing concern among residents. Following the oil boom in North Dakota’s Bakken formation, over three million gallons of crude oil float down the Hudson River each day, according to NorthJersey.com. The risk for an environmental disaster has more than just river conservation groups worried; New York Governor Mario Cuomo issued a statement in January 2014 that the Hudson River is “especially vulnerable to spills of crude oil.”
Chuck Kennicutt, retired Texas A&M oceanography professor and expert on oil spills, spoke about the inevitability of a big oil spill in the Hudson River.
“I have no side in this issue, but I do know one thing: You will have a spill, it’s almost inevitable. The question is how big.”
As efforts continue to recover the missing victims “the conditions of the river make it difficult and unsafe for the dive teams to enter the water,” reported ABC. James Mercante, attorney for the owners of the Specialist, said the river crash was “a shocking, horrific marine tragedy…right now the company is more concerned with the families of the crew and mourning.”
[Photo by Seth Wenig/AP Images]