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Two vessels collide; Coast Guard searching for three crew members

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Posted at 12:37 PM, Jan 26, 2020
and last updated 2020-01-26 13:37:49-05

The Coast Guard and local agencies are responding to a report of two towing vessels that collided on the Mississippi River at mile marker 123, near Luling, Louisiana, Sunday.

Watchstanders at Coast Guard Sector New Orleans received a report at 5:37 a.m. that the towing vessel RC Creppel and the towing vessel Cooperative Spirit had collided and that four members of the RC Creppel are missing. The Cooperative Spirit was reportedly transiting up bound on the river when it entered a barge fleeting area and allied with barges before colliding with the towing vessel RC Creppel. The collision caused the RC Creppel to sink and barges to break away.

One of the missing crew members was rescued by a good Samaritan. The search for the other three people is ongoing.

The RC Creppel was pushing two barges carrying sulfuric acid. One of these barges was damaged in the incident and reportedly released an unknown amount of vapor into the air. The source of the release is secured. A safety zone from mile marker 121 to 123 has been issued and traffic is closed to vessels in that area.

“This is a complex response that has a search-and-rescue component, as well as a pollution component that will require planning and coordination to execute," said Capt. Kristi Luttrell, the Commanding Officer of Sector New Orleans. “We are working alongside our partners at the state and local levels to quickly assess the situation so that we can safely make every effort to find the missing mariners and minimize any further impact to the environment.”

Center of Toxicology and Environmental Health has been contracted for air monitoring.

The cause of the incident is under investigation.

Involved in the response are:

  • Coast Guard Air Station New Orleans
  • Coast Guard Station New Orleans
  • Port of South Louisiana
  • St. Charles Parish Sheriff's Office
  • St. Charles Parish Homeland Security and Emergency Preparedness Center