A.M. BYERS of Reiss Fleet Sinks In River Following Collision
Detroit (AP) -- Two Great Lakes freighters crashed in the St. Clair River entrance to Lake St. Clair Thursday night. One sank and the other went aground, but only one of approximately 70 crewmen was injured severely enough to require medical aid.
Down, with its decks awash was the 504-foot A.M. BYERS, downbound with a load of dolomite limestone. Damaged severely and anchored to shore was the E.M. FORD, a 406-foot cement carrier for the Huron Transportation Co.
Mike Wenta, 57, of Milwaukee, a cook aboard the FORD, was taken to a nearby Mount Clemens hospital for treatment of head, back, and chest injuries.
Hit By Door
Wenta said he had started from bed to deck when he was clobbered by a free-swinging door as the ships collided.
The BYERS settled to the bottom in 17 minutes. The FORD careened about out of control, but finally was able to get balky anchors down, and the Coast Guard eventually made her fast to shore.
A ferry that plies between the mainland and Harsens Island in the St. Clair River picked up the 38-man crew of the BYERS after they had made shore in lifeboats. The FORD's crew stuck it out.
Within two hours some 25 freighters were blocked from using the channel between the lake and river. Some of those downbound were ordered to backtrack and go into Lake Michigan, delivering their ores or other steel ingredients to Chicago or nearby ports.
The Byers is ooperated by the Reiss Steamship Co., of Detroit. The latter was upbound unloaded.
Among the crew members who were aboard the BYERS were Cletus Wirth, 42, an engineer from Sheboygan Falls, Percy Johnson, 38, a conveyor engineer and Willard Karl.