Body Found After Tugboat Accident, But Questions Remain

Officials hope to raise vessel this weekend

image By MIKE GLENN
HOUSTON CHRONICLE

A tugboat submerged in the Houston Ship Channel must be raised before officials can determine what led to its fatal sinking, officials said.

The body of one crewmember of the J.R. Nichols was recovered on Thursday, the day after the tug sank with five people aboard near the Sims Bayou turning basin.

Workers from the nearby LyondellBasell refinery helped rescue the four others after the tug sank about 10:30 p.m. Wednesday.

No identities were released on Thursday. Coast Guard officials will interview the surviving crewmembers from the 56-foot tug owned by Kinder Morgan and other boats near the scene as part of their inquiry. The investigation into the sinking won’t be complete until the tug is raised.

“They have to see the vessel before they come to a conclusion,” said Petty Officer Prentice Danner, a Coast Guard spokesman.

The tugboat will be raised no sooner than this weekend, and that’s only if the weather holds, Danner added.