2 Freighters In Head-On Collision
Algonac, Mich. (UP) -- Two Great Lakes freighters collided head-on in the St. Clair River Thursday night. One of the vessels sank, blocking the heavily traveled waterway for an indefinite period.
The loaded 504-foot ore carrier A.M. BYERS sank to its main deck in 17 minutes after colliding with the empty 406-foot cement carrier E.M. FORD.
The BYERS' hull settled against the bottom of the 30-foot-deep channel.
The Coast Guard said it might be a week before the BYERS could be unloaded and swung out of the traffic lane. However, officers were checking to determine if other vessels could "guide around" the disabled vessel.
Forty-one persons, including the captain, were on the down-bound BYERS. They scrambled into life-boats and all got to shore without injury.vThe only casualty was a cook on the FORD. The victim, Mike Wenta, 57, Milwaukee, was hospitalized at nearby Mount Clemens, Mich., with head, back, and chest injuries.
The FORD lost its rudder in the collision. It drifted aimlessly until it anchored near the American side of the river.
The crash occurred at 9:30 p.m. off Harsens Island about 30 miles northeast of Detroit.
Coast Guard officials gave no immediate explanation for the collision. the captains of both vessels refused to comment pending an inquiry.
Survivors of the BYERS, however, said the FORD appeared to be out of control before the crash. This raised speculation the up-bound FORD may have lost its rudder before the collision.