Laker crewman seriously hurt when he falls backward off stairs

A 65-year-old crewman aboard a Great Lakes dry-bulk carrier was seriously injured when he fell down several interior stairs.

The U.S. Coast Guard conducted a medevac from the 736-foot Atlantic Erie in northern Lake Huron on July 7. The crewmember injured his hip and ribs. The man had trouble breathing and became disoriented. 

The Canadian-flagged vessel was upbound on Lake Huron, approximately 37 miles south-southeast of Alpena, Mich. Based on the man’s symptoms, a Coast Guard surgeon recommended the vessel continue to Coast Guard Station St. Ignace, Mich., where a 45-foot response boat would later conduct the medevac. The man was then transported by ambulance to Straits Hospital in St. Ignace. 

An investigation into the incident determined there were no outside contributing factors, said Capt. John Gruszewski, marine safety and quality manager at V.Ships Canada, the owner of the vessel. 

“It was an interior stairwell inside the accommodations. He was going from one deck to another inside the ship,” Gruszewski said of the crewmember’s fall from the third step, which propelled him backward. “He was wearing good shoes. There was no foreign material on the stairway that would have caused him to slip. He was not using drugs or alcohol. Weather was not a factor. The ship was not moving, pitching or rolling. The stairways were in good condition.

“It sounds like he tripped on the stairs.”

The Coast Guard did not conduct an investigation of the accident, said spokeswoman Petty Officer Lauren Laughlin. 

By Professional Mariner Staff