Barge collides with bridge over Ohio River

U.S. & World

(CNN) – Officials in Kentucky are investigating after a towing vessel collided with a bridge on the Ohio River.

The vessel was carrying 15 barges of coal and surprisingly there were no injuries, no damage to the bridge, and no debris left in the river.

The floating freight-train went off its river-riding rails and collided with the Carol Cropper Bridge as the vessel was headed northbound upstream.

“The towing vessel is the towing vessel Washington. It was pushing 15 loaded hopper barges. They were loaded with coal,” said Lt. Jim Brendel of the U.S. Coast Guard.

Brendel says they’re still working to determine what caused the crash.

“Sometimes they’re mechanical failures. It could be operator error. At this point, the investigation is ongoing,” he said.

In the moments after the collision, the 15 barges broke loose from each other and began floating independently downstream.

“Fifteen barges loaded with coal, that’s a lot of force. Even if you’re moving at a slow, slow rate, the kinetic energy behind it…” said Brendel.

Other tows in the area came to the rescue and stopped the barges then helped to corral the barges before disaster.

“The Coast Guard is going to determine what happened, why it happened and what we can do to potentially prevent it in the future,” Brendel said.

The bridge was not closed but inspectors were called in to check it out.

“They took a look at the impacted area and didn’t notice anything. They reported back that everything on the bridge looked fine,” said Nancy Wood with the Kentucky Department of Transportation.

No injuries, no coal spilled and no pollution was reported in a slow speed collision that required fast action to keep it from getting worse.

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