Bridge Collapse Hearings: Day Two

Apr 17, 2012

On the second day of hearings on the January 26th Eggners Ferry Bridge accident, Coast Guard and National Transportation Safety Board questioned workers involved in the elision involving a Foss Maritime cargo ship and the bridge connecting Aurora to Land Between the Lakes.  U.S. Coast Guard Court Recorder Nick Parham says as they investigate the causes of the crash, officials could discover that decisions made by multiple people led to the crash:

"Typically what we would say would be that in our causal analysis, 'This or that led to it happening', so the factors including the individual decisions, company decisions, any decisions that led to that, so it would be a combination of factors."

After the Coast Guard determines these factors, Parham said officials will decide what, if any, actions they should take against individuals involved:

"If it was in terms of an individual that was onboard the vessel, that would be an action against their licensing where it could be anything from further training to actual, possible suspension. Those are some of the options available. If it was one of the companies or a state entity or anything like that, that would be civil penalties for that process."

The Delta Mariner’s Chief Mate and the Coast Guard Bridge Administrator, Western Rivers, testified yesterday. Today, representatives from Foss Maritime management will speak along with another crewmember from the ship.

Afternoon Update:

The Delta Mariner crew began to tell its story this afternoon during Coast Guard and National Transportation and Safety Board Hearings on the ship’s collision with the Eggners Ferry Bridge, on January 26th. 

Chief Mate John Newland described noisy  conditions onboard the ship before the crash. He said with all the wind screen wipers on all the of the ships windows operating it was tough to hear much communication.

When asked if he was aware of proper Coast Guard regulations for bridge lighting, he paused for nearly a minute and explained that steering the vessel required focus.

He didn’t think about whether the lights fit regulation. "I wasn't particularly addressing that at the time sir," Newland responded to the question. He continue, "I was steering the ship and it's a very demanding job and I had my full attention focused on it."

Newland did say that the ship did perform its standard procedure lighting the bridge with spotlights. He also said he had a feeling the ship was not going to travel under the bridge’s main span.  Newland’s testimony is ongoing.

Mid-Day Update Below:

The second day of the Eggners Ferry Bridge hearings opened this morning with an audio recording from the night the Delta Mariner collided with the bridge. 

A confused crew can be heard from the recordings 20 minutes prior to the accident. The pilot, captain and chief mate discussed the lighting signals and whether or not the ship could clear the bridge. And then the sound of a crash.

Coast Guard and National Transportation Safety Board officials are conducting an investigation to determine the cause of the collision that collapsed more than 300 feet of the bridge. Coast Guard Bridge Administrator, Western Rivers Eric Washburn says a notice was issued to via radio prior to the night of the crash indicating lights on the bridge were out. To his knowledge, the notice was still airing on the day of the crash.

Testimony resumes later this afternoon when federal officials will hear from the Delta Mariner’s chief mate.