The search for three missing people from the towing vessel RC Creppel was suspended late Monday night after 67 cumulative hours of active search on the Mississippi River near Luling, Louisiana.
The three mariners went missing after their towing vessel collided with another towing vessel, the Cooperative Spirit, early Sunday morning at mile marker 123.
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 Coast Guard said in a statement. The collision caused the RC Creppel to sink and barges to breakaway.
One of the two barges the RC Creppel was pushing at the time was damaged in the accident. The barge was reportedly carrying sulphuric acid and an unknown amount of vapor was released into the air.
A fourth mariner from the RC Creppel was recovered from the water and transported to a local hospital where he was reported in stable condition.
Coast Guard crews searched over 835 nautical miles for approximately 67 hours but were unable to find the three missing mariners.
The Mississippi River opened Sunday night at 9:30 p.m. to vessel traffic from mile marker 121 to 123. This area was still subject to restrictions put in place by Coast Guard Sector New Orleans’ Vessel Traffic Service.
McKinney Salvage has been contracted to carry out salvage operations of the barge. Air monitoring in the area will continue until the salvage operations of the affected barge are complete.
The National Transportation Safety Board has joined the Coast Guard to investigate the cause of the incident.
“Air monitoring is ongoing in the area surrounding the incident. The air in the immediate vicinity of the affected barge has now been cleared of any traces of sulfuric acid. There are no immediate health issues or concerns to the surrounding communities,” the Coast Guard said in an update late Monday night.