SCI Holds Memorial For Towboat Explosion Victims

A memorial in honor of the three men killed in a towboat explosion January 19 was held at the Eckstein Conference Center at the Seamen Church Institute’s (SCI) Center for Maritime Education in Paducah, Ky., January 26 (see WJ, January 29). The service was held from 9 to 9:17 a.m.—the exact time the explosion occurred—and was led by SCI’s Chaplain Kempton Baldridge, who assisted shipyard workers and their families the morning of the tragedy.

Music, which was carefully chosen for the memorial, was played during the service. Jessica Brent, the daughter of towboat captain and river legend Howard Brent, performed “Ride It Out Captain,” which she composed. “Amazing Grace” and “Eternal Father, Strong to Save” were also played.

The deceased are Timothy Wright, 52; Jerome Smith, 56; and Quentin Stewart, 41. They were all pronounced dead at the scene. Wright’s wife, Rosey, attended the service alongside more than 60 industry members, colleagues, locals and friends of the victims.

The Kentucky State Police said that what appears to be a flash fire inside the mv. William E. Strait led to an additional fire onboard the vessel, where at least nine workers employed by First Marine LLC, as well as workers employed by Hutco Inc., Thermal Control and Rupke Blasting & Painting Company, were continuing their work to rebuild the towboat. What caused the fire to begin with is still under investigation by the local police and the Occupational Safety and Health Administration.

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