Coast Guard: Vessel struck something in river when barges came loose

Tuesday, March 26, 2013
A stray barge nears towboat workers on the Mississippi River just north of the Bill Emerson Memorial Bridge Sunday morning, March 24, 2013 in Cape Girardeau. Barges from the Sheila Johnson towboat were knocked loose Sunday morning near mile marker 58. The bridge was closed to traffic while towboats retrieved the barges and cleared them from the bridge. (Laura Simon)

Three barges carrying coal partially sank Sunday after coming loose from their towboats north of Cape Girardeau.

Lt. Dan McQuate, public information officer for the U.S. Coast Guard in Paducah, Ky., said the vessel Sheila Johnson hit something in the river at about 10:30 a.m. Sunday near mile marker 60 north of Cape Girardeau. Investigations are ongoing regarding what was struck.

"With the water up as high as it is, I doubt it ran aground," McQuate said.

The Sheila Johnson was pushing 25 barges when 13 broke loose after impact and started drifting down the river, he said. Two partially sank near mile marker 57.4 on the Illinois side of the river; another partially sank at the Cape Girardeau riverfront.

The Bill Emerson Memorial Bridge between Cape Girardeau and Illinois was closed from approximately 11:20 a.m. to 12:25 p.m. as a precautionary measure, according to Cape Girardeau police public information officer Darin Hickey.

The bridge was not struck by any of the barges. Damage estimates were in progress Monday, McQuate said.

Pertinent address:

Broadway and North Water Street, Cape Girardeau, Mo.

Jeffersonville, Ind.

Map of pertinent addresses

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