Falling Crane Kills Tugboat Captain

Published Aug 14, 2014 2:50 PM by The Maritime Executive

A 46-year-old tugboat captain, Michael Collins, was killed Thursday morning – just after midnight – following an accident on the Industrial Canal.

Collins died after sustaining fatal injuries when a crane fell on the tugboat he was steering while it was passing under the Florida Avenue Bridge. The extent of his injuries are still under investigation.

The tugboat Cory Michael was pushing a barge with a crane on it southbound on the Industrial Canal prior to the accident. Collins requested that the Florida Avenue Bridge be raised so he could pass. A Port of New Orleans spokesman said the bridge was raised above the height requested. 

A U.S. Coast Guard rep said when the tugboat and the barge were passing under the open Florida Avenue Bridge, the crane hit the bridge causing the crane to fall on the tugboat's wheelhouse, trapping Collins.

Nearby vessels assisted getting the tugboat to the pier, after which the New Orleans Fire Department freed Collins from the wheelhouse. Unfortunately, he was pronounced dead at the scene.

Responders then began removing the crane from the bridge. The bridge was inspected and reopened to vehicle traffic early Thursday morning, around 4:30 a.m.

The Coast Guard is investigating the fatality.