Injured man evacuated from crew boat following grounding in unfamiliar waters

A crewman aboard a vessel assisting in a dredging operation in Oregon Inlet, N.C., was evacuated by the U.S. Coast Guard after the boat ran aground and the man injured his leg in a fall.

The 48-foot crew boat Cooper River was heading to the project site at the Oregon Inlet bridge at 0710 on Aug. 8 when the vessel ran aground in Walter Slough, about nine miles south of Nags Head, the Coast Guard reported.

The Coast Guard reported calm seas, light winds and good visibility at the time the boat ran aground. One Coast Guard responder attributed the accident to a lack of familiarity with the waterway.

“The whole Oregon Inlet area has very shifty shoals, and if you’re not familiar with the area it takes a lot of patience,†said Petty Officer 2nd Class Adam Fredrickson, boarding officer on the response boat. “Local knowledge helps out immensely. Where the incident occurred happens to be one of the narrowest spots in a very tight channel. It didn’t take much for (the captain) to be off and to be aground.â€

Cooper River, which has a draft of 5.7 feet, ran aground in about 3 feet of water, Fredrickson said. The channel in that area is 40 to 50 feet wide.

The man’s injury, initially thought to be a broken femur, was later determined to be a serious bruise to the upper thigh, said Armand Riehl, project manager for Great Lakes Dredge & Dock Co. (GLDD) of Oak Brook, Ill., the company that owns Cooper River.

“The crewman was on the back deck when the boat came to a stop,†Riehl said. “He fell and hit his leg on the housing.â€

Cooper River radioed Coast Guard Station Oregon Inlet, which dispatched a 25-foot response boat.

“It happened right behind our station, and we were there within 10 minutes,†Fredrickson said. “We had an EMT (emergency medical technician) on board who put the man on a Stokes litter to immobilize his leg. We transferred him to the station, where emergency medical services were waiting to take him to the hospital.â€

The aluminum-hulled boat was not damaged in the accident. One of GLDD’s smaller vessels helped pull Cooper River off the shoal with the aid of the rising tide, Riehl said. None of the other nine crewmembers was injured.

Kevin Schneider, petty officer first class at Coast Guard Marine Safety Detachment Nags Head, said alcohol and drugs did not play a role in the accident. The captain was administered a breathalyzer test that was negative.

Rich Miller

By Professional Mariner Staff