Passengers evacuated after tour boat grounds in St. Lawrence River

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(ALEXANDRIA BAY, N.Y.) — A tour boat with about 130 people aboard ran aground and took on water Thursday afternoon in the St. Lawrence River, forcing the evacuation of the passengers, WWNY TV reported.

Island Dutchess, operated by Uncle Sam Boat Tours, grounded near Sunnyside Island about two miles north of Alexandria Bay and near the Canadian border. All passengers were transferred to another company-operated vessel and transported to shore.

“I hear this scraping and then bam, and it threw the guy next to me about three feet backward,” passenger Pauline Helvie said.

The Coast Guard reported that service personnel and local fire department personnel boarded Island Duchess to assist the vessel’s crew late Thursday afternoon. They said they were continuing to assess the situation and conducting salvage operations.

Joe Plummer, Jefferson County emergency management director, said none of the passengers were injured.

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From Save the River:

(CLAYTON, N.Y.) — Save The River would like to acknowledge and thank those involved in the recovery of Island Duchess.

On Thursday afternoon, Aug. 20, the tour boat hit a shoal near the Summerland Island group, north of Alexandria Bay, and began taking on water. All 134 passengers were safely transferred to another Uncle Sam’s tour boat and returned to shore.

Quick response by both the United States and Canadian authorities, local fire departments and the New York Department of Environmental Conservation helped to keep the scene safe and allowed for local marine businesses to create a salvage plan. Hunt Underwater Specialties, Seaway Marine Group and W.D. Bach were all responsible for the salvage operations that led to Island Duchess safely returning to Alexandria Bay late Thursday night.

During the salvage operation, oil boom was deployed around the tour boat to minimize any water contamination from anything that may have been damaged in the accident.

By Professional Mariner Staff