Deck hand suffers broken leg after falling from ladder

A deck hand aboard a tugboat on Connecticut’s Thames River suffered a fractured leg after falling in the engine compartment and becoming entangled in the drive shaft.

The 23-year-old crewman was descending a ladder on the 26-foot G.E.M. at about 1500 on Jan 12 when he slipped and fell, said Lt. Cmdr. Andrew Ely of U.S. Coast Guard Station New London. The tug, operated by Gwenmor Marine Contracting of Mystic, Conn., was assisting in repairs at a New London railroad bridge.

“He dropped about five feet from the ladder and fell on the drive shaft,” said Petty Officer 2nd Class Dale Prettyman, who was serving as officer of the day. “The shaft got a hold of his right pant leg and he got wrapped up in it.”

The two crewmembers aboard G.E.M. radioed the Coast Guard for help, and eight minutes later the tug moored at Fort Trumbull. Due to limited space, only two firefighters were able to reach the deck hand in the engine compartment, said Battalion Chief Tom Curcio of the New London Fire Department. Using a Sked stretcher, tripod, ropes and pulleys, rescuers hoisted the man through the narrow hatch about 45 minutes later. He was taken to a New London hospital and treated for a compound fracture.

“One thing that I would point out is that whenever the Coast Guard sends someone into a space like that, we always have someone (at the top of the ladder) looking after them,” Ely said. “You can’t negate everything that could go wrong.”

By Professional Mariner Staff