One Mariner Dead, Another Missing After Skiff Collides With Tow On Port Allen Route

One crew member is dead and another is missing following a February 10 collision between a skiff and a tow on the Port Allen Route near Plaquemine, La.

According to the U.S. Coast Guard, a 14-foot skiff carrying four crew members from the mv. Melvin L. King, part of Yazoo River Towing’s fleet, struck the tow of another towing vessel near Mile 41 that night shortly before 10 p.m. Two of the four crew members swam to the bank.

“The Coast Guard was notified of this incident when one of the crew members who was on the vessel that overturned swam to shore and called the local police,” said Lt. Rachel Ault with Coast Guard Sector New Orleans’ Public Affairs.

Emergency responders from the Iberville Sheriff’s Office recovered one body from the waterway. The fourth crew member is still missing.

Besides the Iberville Sheriff’s Office, Coast Guard Station New Orleans, Marine Safety Unit Baton Rouge and the Louisiana Department of Wildlife and Fisheries all aided in the search. Immediately following the collision, the Coast Guard closed the Port Allen Route between Miles 41 and 55.

Within about 24 hours, the Coast Guard suspended the search for the missing mariner and reopened the waterway.

A spokesman with the Iberville Sheriff’s Office said the four mariners had visited Jack Miller’s Landing earlier that night “probably for dinner,” while the Melvin L. King was moored along the bank nearby. The crew members were on their way back to the Melvin L. King when they hit a northbound barge and tow in the waterway, the spokesman said. According to the Iberville Sheriff’s Office representative, the suspected tow included a hopper barge loaded with containers.

The cause of the incident and the name of the other vessel involved in the collision remains under investigation.

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