In previous blogs, we wrote about the tragedy near the Tappan Zee Bridge that claimed the lives of three workers. Three tugboats were pushing a barge across the Hudson River when one of the tugs hit a construction barge and sank with three crewmembers still trapped inside. It took months to recover all three bodies. As the local police have continued investigating the incident, new details have come to light that indicate this tugboat accident might have been avoided.
Police have discovered that a captain of one of the other two tugboats that did not crash into the construction barge was possibly below deck with a woman. One of the three captains covered for the distracted captain and left his mate-in-charge at the helm. The Tappan Zee Bridge fatal tugboat accident happened on the mate-in-charge’s watch. If one of the captains had not been otherwise distracted while on duty, it’s possible all three captains would have been manning the three boats and the tugboat accident might not have occurred.
Families of the Tugboat Accident Victims Filed Lawsuits
Families of all three tugboat accident victims have filed lawsuits against the Tappan Zee Constructors and New York Marine Towing Inc., which is the company that owns the tugboats. The family of the mate-in-charge alleges the barge was poorly lit, there was not enough effort to mark the waterway for oncoming vessels and no one made an attempt to try and save the deceased crewmembers while the vessel was sinking. Additionally, the family wants to know if the worker was fatigued while he was asked to cover the helm due to the indiscretion, as the investigation shows he may have been needlessly pulling a double-shift.
As this incident goes to show, captain negligence can lead to disasters. In old tales, captains stayed on a sinking ship until the last possible moment and forsakes their own safety in hopes of keeping all aboard the vessel safe. While we’re not saying a captain should go down with the ship, we are saying each captain has a duty to ensure his or her crew and passengers are kept safe. The captains present in the Tappan Zee Bridge tugboat crash are a poor example.
Latti & Anderson LLP is a maritime injury law firm that helps families who have lost loved ones at sea.