Tankerman slips off ladder while descending barge, drowns at NJ pier

The Coast Guard is investigating the death of a tugboat crewman who fell from a barge ladder into the water at a New Jersey oil depot.

Danny Peters, 55, of Brooklyn, N.Y., drowned Oct. 16. His body was recovered the next day by state police divers, said Coast Guard Sector New York spokesman Charles Rowe.

Peters, a tankerman, was descending from an empty barge onto the pier at the International-Matex Tank Terminal in Bayonne at 1950. He slipped and fell 10 feet into Kill Van Kull when the ladder shifted, according to Sgt. David Conte of the Bayonne Police Department, which handled the initial investigation.

Rowe said a crew of five on the 56-foot tug Diane B had towed the 195-foot, 11,300-barrel John Blanche to the terminal at 1900. Peters fell when he was climbing down to fill out paperwork, Conte said.

“An employee who was standing on the pier, close enough to see but not in the immediate proximity, went to get a life ring — there was one just a little distance up the pier — but when he returned the crewmember had disappeared under the water,” Rowe said, adding that Peters “was not wearing a life jacket.”

Whether the ladder was loose or slippery is part of the investigation, Rowe said. Police divers looked for Peters until the Coast Guard suspended the search at 0030 on Oct. 17. They resumed the search at 1040. They found the body seven minutes later, close to where Peters plunged into the water, Conte said.

Both vessels are owned by American Petroleum & Transportation of Miller Place, N.Y. Executives at the towing company and terminal declined to comment.

By Professional Mariner Staff