Texas boaters rescued from water after collision with tug or barges

Two people were rescued from the Gulf Intracoastal Waterway after their 18-foot pleasure craft collided with a tugboat and capsized near Port O’Connor, Texas.

The two boaters were rescued soon afterward by a nearby good Samaritan vessel, the U.S. Coast Guard said. There were no injuries.

The collision occurred on Dec. 1, 2013, at about 1750 near mile marker 477 of the Intracoastal Waterway about three miles southwest of Port O’Connor.

Lt. Tyrone Conner of Coast Guard Sector Corpus Christi said the tugboat St. Jude Thaddeus was traveling in an area designated for barge traffic when the accident occurred. The Coast Guard did not name the pleasure boat.

It’s not clear why the two vessels collided. The Coast Guard is investigating the accident, but Conner declined to comment on possible causes.

The Coast Guard withheld numerous details about the accident, including where the two vessels made contact. For instance, it’s not clear if the barges or the tugboat itself hit the fiberglass pleasure boat.

The 2,000-hp St. Jude Thaddeus was pushing three barges from Houston to Corpus Christi. Two of the barges were empty, and one was loaded with aromatic condensate.

Weather was good at the time of the accident, with scattered clouds, light winds and temperatures close to 70°, according to the National Oceanic and Atmospheric Administration. Visibility was eight nautical miles.

The two recreational boaters were thrown into the water as their vessel capsized shortly after the accident. Another recreational boater witnessed the accident and “acted quickly to retrieve them,” the Coast Guard said in a news release.

“We are thankful for the quick response of the good Samaritan to pull the individuals from the water and saving two lives,” Cmdr. Daniel Deptula of Coast Guard Sector Corpus Christi said in a statement shortly after the accident.

The Coast Guard would not identify the party that rescued the two boaters or say what kind of vessel was involved.

“These are the answers I can currently give you, as this is still an early and active investigation,” said Chief Warrant Officer Brandi McClain, the lead investigator on the case.

St. Jude Thaddeus is owned by Marquette Transportation Co.’s Gulf Inland unit, which is based in Harahan, La., just west of New Orleans on the Mississippi River. The company’s website says the tug is 74 feet long and was built in 2007.

Marquette Transportation did not respond to requests for comment on the accident. E-mails sent to two senior executives were not returned.

The tug was allowed to continue to Corpus Christi after the Coast Guard investigation officer completed an inquiry.  

The pleasure boat was towed to shore after the accident. Conner said its owners planned to arrange for a salvage.

By Professional Mariner Staff