Deck hand drowns when towboat drifts, flips over Minnesota dam

Deck hand Tyler Trussoni was killed.

Courtesy Trussoni family

A deck hand was killed when a new towboat sank after it apparently lost power and floated over a dam on the Upper Mississippi River near Dresbach, Minn.

Three crewmembers were on board Megan McB, operated by Brennan Marine, when it floated over the roller gate on Lock and Dam No. 7. The boat came to rest on its side, wedged against the first roller gate.

Courtesy Army Corps of Engineers

A salvage crew  works to upend the towboat Megan McB after the vessel capsized at a Mississippi River dam.

Two crewmen working on the top level escaped. The body of Tyler Trussoni, 22, of Genoa, Wis., was found on the second floor of the house by divers from Brennan Marine. Trussoni was a deck hand for Brennan Marine, working the Port of La Crosse in switching and fleeting operations, the company said.

The incident occurred about 0615 on July 3 during high water on the Upper Mississippi. Water was flowing over the lock and dam at about 89,000 cubic feet per second, almost three times the normal rate, according to the U.S. Army Corps of Engineers.

Mechanical failure was suspected, according to Mark Binsfeld, business manager for Brennan Marine. He thought the engine failed and the boat was swept over the dam.

However, a final determination of cause has not been made because the Coast Guard investigation is still ongoing.

“Investigators are casting a wide net to explore all possible factors that might have been involved in the incident to try to help prevent something like this from happening in the future,” said Chief Petty Officer Joe Laverty. “We’re not able to rush to any quick judgments until all the factors have been explored.”

The 65-foot Megan McB was launched in November 2012 and christened in June before joining the Brennan Marine fleet. Built by Tell City Boat Works in Tell City, Ind., Megan McB was assigned to operate 24/7 assisting barges through the lock. It was the company’s first inland waterways towboat, although the company is experienced in building barges, casino platforms and other types of vessels and marine structures.

A diver inspected the lock and dam and found damage, said Army Corps spokeswoman Shannon Bauer.

By Professional Mariner Staff