Coast guard suspends search for three missing people after towing vessels collide on Mississippi River

Published: Jan. 27, 2020 at 7:23 PM CST|Updated: Jan. 27, 2020 at 8:33 PM CST
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ST. CHARLES PARISH, La. (WVUE) - The Coast Guard suspended their search three people in the Mississippi River after two towing vessels collided Sunday morning near Luling, according to the Coast Guard. The search lasted for 67 hours, but they were unable to find the three people.

Air monitoring is still ongoing to search for any trace of possible sulfuric acid released.

“There are no immediate health issues or concerns to surrounding communities," according to the report.

The collision happened around 5:30 a.m. near mile marker 123 when The towing vessel RC Creppel and the towing vessel Cooperative Spirit collided causing four members of the RC Creppel to be unaccounted for.

The Cooperative Spirit was reportedly traveling up river when it entered a barge fleeting area and allied with barges before colliding with the RC Creppel.

The collision caused the RC Creppel to sink and barges to breakaway.

The Coast Guard launched a 29-foot Response Boat-Small boat crew from Coast Guard Sector New Orleans and an MH-65 Dolphin rescue helicopter air crew from Air Station New Orleans.

One of the people in the water was recovered from a Good Samaritan. The search for the other three is ongoing.

The RC Creppel was pushing two barges carrying sulfuric acid. One of these barges was damaged in the incident and reportedly released an unknown amount of vapor into the air.

The source of the release is secured and a safety zone from mile marker 121 to 123 has been issued and traffic is closed to vessels in that area.

“This is a complex response that has a search-and-rescue component, as well as a pollution component that will require planning and coordination to execute," said Capt. Kristi Luttrell, the Commanding Officer of Sector New Orleans. “We are working alongside our partners at the state and local levels to quickly assess the situation so that we can safely make every effort to find the missing mariners and minimize any further impact to the environment.”

The Center of Toxicology and Environmental Health has been contracted for air monitoring.

The cause of the incident is under investigation.

Involved in the response are:

• Coast Guard Air Station New Orleans

• Coast Guard Station New Orleans

• Port of South Louisiana

• St. Charles Parish Sheriff's Office

• St. Charles Parish Homeland Security and Emergency Preparedness Center

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