UPDATE: Mississippi River closed, three missing after barges collide, towboat sinks

Collision near site of Luling ferry disaster

Thomas Perumean
January 26, 2020 - 9:31 am
Mississippi River closed after barges collide, towboat sinks--three missing



UPDATE: 6:50 a.m. CST


The search continues for three people missing after their towboat collides with another towboat, and then sinks. The Mississippi River remains closed between mile marker 121-and-123, near Destrehan.  

It was just after 5:30 Sunday morning when the towboat RC Creppel, pushing a pair of barges loaded with sulfuric acid, collided with an upbound towboat, the Cooperative Spirit. The collision caused the RC Creppel to sink and its barges to break free.  

One of the barges from the RC Creppel sustained damage and caused the release of sulfuric acid vapor into the air. The source of the release has been contained and the state Center of Toxicology and Environmental Health has been contracted for air monitoring. Four crewmembers of the RC Creppel went into the river as the mortally damaged towboat sank. One crewmember was rescued by a passing boater.  That person was transported to a hospital, their condition is not known.  

An on-going search for the three other crewmembers is still underway, using watercraft and a helicopter from the Coast Guard.  

The commanding officer on scene, Coast Guard Captain Kristi Luttrell from Sector New Orleans stated: 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."

"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," Luttrell continued.  

The accident is reportedly close to the area where the George Prince Ferry Disaster occured in October 1976. That disaster was the worst ferry accident in U.S. waters resulting in the deaths of 78 people. It was the impetus for construction of the Hale Boggs/Luling Bridge.  

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