Tugboat Captain Killed in Accident in New Orleans Industrial Canal

An aerial view of the Industrial Canal in New Orleans. The Florida Avenue Bridge can be seen towards the center. Photo credit: Michael Maples, U.S. Army Corps of Engineers
An aerial view of the Industrial Canal in New Orleans. The Florida Avenue Bridge can be seen in the upper right corner of the photo, near the center of the canal. Photo credit: Michael Maples, U.S. Army Corps of Engineers

A tugboat Captain was killed Wednesday night in New Orleans after the crane from the crane barge it was pushing struck a bridge, causing it to crash into the wheelhouse of the tug.

According to a statement from Matt Graham of the Port of New Orleans, at 11:59 p.m. Wednesday the tug MV Cory Michael was pushing a crane barge southbound in the Inner Harbor Navigation Canal in New Orleans and requested the Florida Avenue Bridge be raised. The statement said that the bridge was raised to above the requested height, but when passing underneath the crane’s boom struck the bridge structure, causing it to fall back and strike the wheelhouse of the tug.

The Harbor Police Department, New Orleans Fire Department, U.S. Coast Guard and EMS all responded to the scene. The Captain, who has not been identified, was pronounced dead by EMS at 12:50 a.m. Thursday morning, Graham said.

At 1:25 a.m., responders began attempting to remove the crane from the bridge structure.

The Florida Avenue Bridge is a vertical lift bridge that crosses the IHNC, more commonly known as the Industrial Canal, connecting the Mississippi River to Lake Pontchartrain near downtown New Orleans. The bridge was eventually reopened to traffic at 4:30 a.m. Thursday, Graham said.

Update: The captain has been identified by the New Orleans Coroner’s Office as Michael Collins, 46, according to Reuters.