Coast Guard search for 3 people missing after towboat collision

WWL Newsroom
January 27, 2020 - 7:54 am

The search continues for three people missing after their towboat collided with another towboat on the Mississippi River. Coast Guard officials say it happened just after 5:30am Sunday morning.

That is when, they say, the towboat RC Creppel was pushing a pair of barges loaded with sulfuric acid, collided with another towboat, the Cooperative Spirit, traveling up-river. The collision caused the RC Creppel to sink and its barges to break free near the Luling Bridge.

Four crewmembers of the RC Creppel ended-up in the river. One crewmember was rescued by a passing boat, but the other three are still missing.

“We continue searching for as long as we possibly can,” said Lt. John Edwards Public Affairs Officer with the 8th Coast Guard District. “The Coast Guard Search and Rescue operators out there continue to have hope and we will search for as long as we believe that they still have a possibility of survival and right now we are still searching.”

Lt. Edwards says they are working to get river traffic back to normal, “The vessel traffic system is trying to work out a plan to get vessels through with some restriction”. He also says they have been working with the local operations center in Luling and authorities sin St. Charles Parish.

You can read the latest Coast Guard press release below:


News Release


U.S. Coast Guard 8th District Heartland
Contact: 8th District Public Affairs
Office: (504) 671-2020
After Hours: (618) 225-9008
Eighth District online newsroom

Coast Guard, local agencies responding to towing vessel collision on the Mississippi River

NEW ORLEANS — The Coast Guard and local agencies are responding to a report of two towing vessels that collided on the Mississippi River at mile marker 123, near Luling, Louisiana, Sunday. 

Watchstanders at Coast Guard Sector New Orleans received a report at 5:37 a.m. that the towing vessel RC Creppel and the towing vessel Cooperative Spirit had collided and that four members of the RC Creppel are missing. The Cooperative Spirit was reportedly transiting up bound on the river when it entered a barge fleeting area and allied with barges before colliding with the towing vessel RC Creppel. The collision caused the RC Creppel to sink and barges to breakaway. 

The Coast Guard launched a 29-foot Response Boat-Small boat crew from Coast Guard Sector New Orleans and an MH-65 Dolphin rescue helicopter air crew from Air Station New Orleans. One of the people in the water was recovered from a Good Samaritan. The search for the other three is ongoing. 

The RC Creppel was pushing two barges carrying sulfuric acid. One of these barges was damaged in the incident and reportedly released an unknown amount of vapor into the air. The source of the release is secured. A safety zone from mile marker 121 to 123 has been issued and traffic is closed to vessels in that area. 

“This is a complex response that has a search-and-rescue component, as well as a pollution component that will require planning and coordination to execute," said Capt. Kristi Luttrell, the Commanding Officer of Sector New Orleans. “We are working alongside our partners at the state and local levels to quickly assess the situation so that we can safely make every effort to find the missing mariners and minimize any further impact to the environment.”

Center of Toxicology and Environmental Health has been contracted for air monitoring. 

The cause of the incident is under investigation. 

Involved in the response are:

  • Coast Guard Air Station New Orleans
  • Coast Guard Station New Orleans
  • Port of South Louisiana
  • St. Charles Parish Sheriff's Office 
  • St. Charles Parish Homeland Security and Emergency Preparedness Center


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