Three Missing After Tows Collide At LMR Mile 123

Note: an updated version of this story can be found here.

The Eighth Coast Guard Reported January 26 that three crew members from the mv. R.C. Creppel were missing after a collision between two towboats at Lower Mississippi River Mile 123, near Luling, La.

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

The Coast Guard launched a 29-foot Response Boat-Small boat crew from 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 by a good Samaritan. The search for the other three was ongoing as of 12:30 p.m. that day.

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 was secured, the Coast Guard said. A safety zone from Mile 121 to Mile 123 was issued and traffic was 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, 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.”

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