Towing deck hand killed in accident at Louisiana terminal dock

A towboat deck hand died in an accident at an aggregate terminal in Port Allen, La., on the Lower Mississippi River. 

The victim, Patrick Titus, 35, worked on the towboat Danny Etheridge. The vessel was tied up at Bear Industries’ terminal when he was killed at about noon on March 18. Titus was declared dead at the scene. 

The West Baton Rouge Parish Coroner’s Office has classified Titus’ death as accidental. He died from blood loss following multiple blunt force injuries, according to a preliminary autopsy report. 

The report said Titus was “caught between barges” at the terminal. 

The Coast Guard has confirmed a mariner died at the terminal but has not shared details about the cause or manner of death. 

“There was unfortunately an accident that resulted in a death (at) Bear Industries. A deck hand working on the towing vessel Danny Etheridge was involved in a fatal accident,” Lt. Cmdr. Nicole Rodriguez told a Shreveport, La., TV station. 

Jonathan Lally, a spokesman with Coast Guard Sector New Orleans, said the case was still under investigation. He declined to provide even basic details about the accident, including the time it occurred.

The West Baton Rouge Parish Sheriff’s Office also is investigating the incident. The detective assigned to the case declined to comment.

Western Rivers Boat Management of Paducah, Ky., operates Danny Etheridge. The company confirmed that one of its workers died in Port Allen but declined to discuss the incident, citing the ongoing investigation. 

“It saddens me to bring the news to our WRBM family of a tragic accident that occurred yesterday aboard the M/V Danny Etheridge,” company vice president Capt. Jason Strait said in a March 19 email to employees. “On Friday, March 18, 2016, one of our crewmembers was fatally injured in a barge accident near Baton Rouge.

“We ask that everyone offer up their prayers for the family, friends and crewmembers involved in this unfortunate incident,” the note continued. “We are working through the Seaman’s Church to provide counseling aboard the vessel and within the Western Rivers family.”

Titus, of Jonesboro, Ark., was born in Norfolk, Va., and graduated from high school in eastern Pennsylvania, according to his obituary. He worked for nearly a decade as a certified nursing assistant and was a volunteer firefighter before going to work on the water about a year ago. 

“He loved his job on the tugboat and traveling up and down the waterways,” the obituary said. “He most loved spending time with his son.”

Western Rivers has created a fund dedicated to Titus’ young son. To donate, call (270) 444-4772 or email

By Professional Mariner Staff