EAST ST. LOUIS, Ill., March 14 (UPI) -- A former member of a boat crew who was forced by his employer to stay aboard a vessel struck by Hurricane Katrina has won a $4.3 million judgment.
Tyree Webb, 53, a towboat engineer, suffered post-traumatic stress disorder after he was ordered to stay aboard a boat in the Mississippi River, 55 miles south of New Orleans, when the hurricane came ashore in August 2005, court records said.
At the two-day trial in U.S. District Court in East St. Louis, Ill., emotional testimony was heard from members of the crew of several tow boats, who were ordered by the boats' owner, TECO Barge Line, Inc., to stay put as winds reached 145 mph and crew members feared for their lives and telephoned goodbyes to loved ones, the Alton, Ill., Telegraph reported Tuesday.
Judge David Herndon said the boat on which Webb survived the hurricane, the Anita M., was not built or equipped to protect crew members from the force of a hurricane.
He also noted, in rendering the decision against TECO, that Webb attempted suicide after the incident, got divorced, became reclusive, and that Webb's psychiatrist ordered medications to treat post-traumatic stress disorder.
A military doctor at the trial identified Webb's disorder as PTSD and suggested he may never completely recover, the newspaper said.