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Tugboat crashes in Hudson River; one dead, two missing

By Eric DuVall   |   March 12, 2016 at 3:29 PM

NEW YORK, March 12 (UPI) -- One tugboat crew member was killed and two others are missing after a tugboat traveling the Hudson River in New York slammed into a construction barge anchored beneath the Tappan Zee Bridge.

The incident happened just before dawn at 5:18 a.m. Saturday. The tugboat, dubbed the Specialist, was one of three guiding a ship carrying a piece of construction equipment to a site in Jersey City when it struck the barge and sank. Those aboard the other two tugboats attempted to save the three-person Specialist crew. They were not able to reach them before the Specialist sank.

One crew member from the Specialist was pulled from the water by first responders and was pronounced dead a short time later.

The Specialist still sits at the bottom of the Hudson River. Divers have been unable to reach the vessel because of strong currents.

Westchester County Executive Rob Astorino said investigators are still trying to determine what caused the collision. He said it was possible that construction lights at the site of the new Tappan Zee Bridge played a role in the accident.

Speaking at a press conference near the site of the accident Saturday afternoon, New York Gov. Andrew Cuomo said rescue efforts continue, with the possibility the two remaining crew members are still alive but trapped inside the ship after it sank.

Cuomo said rescue workers are trying to determine, "where is the tug actually, is it stable in that position?"

"Then they will deploy the divers," he said.

Cuomo said any plan to bring the ship back to the surface is too risky because shifting the boat to do so might unintentionally drown the crew members if they were able to find an air pocket below deck.

Cuomo offered praise for the first responders at the scene.

"One of the great things about this state, we have accidents, we have weather emergencies ... and we have first responders who are second to none," Cuomo said.

The crew member who died has been identified at Paul Amon, 52, of Bayville, N.J., Astorino said. The other two crewmen have not been identified.

The tugboat had about 5,000 gallons of fuel aboard and Cuomo said the state's Department of Environmental Conservation is working to contain the spill.

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