Tug, Barge, Collide with Vessel in Alabama Section of Tennessee River

April 1, 2008

A tugboat pushing a barge near Florence, Ala., collided in darkness with another boat on the Tennessee River, killing at least one person on the second boat.

A search on March 28 identified what appears to be the boat’s wreckage in deep water.

Ray Jordan, commander of the Tennessee Valley Authority police, told the Times Daily of Florence that William Hill Jr., 59, of Sheffield died in the wreck. Jordan said authorities believe there was at least one more person aboard the vessel that was struck about 8 p.m. March 27, just east of Wilson Dam, Ala.

Search and rescue crews have identified what seems to be the wreckage of the boat in water that is 80 to 100 feet deep, Jordan said. He said authorities are carefully considering whether to have divers get in the water because of potentially dangerous conditions. Cameras were lowered into the water to attempt to see the debris.

Lauderdale EMA director George Grabryan said Coast Guard officials interviewed the tugboat crew.

Grabryan said waters were calm during the initial search last week but that the darkness and increasing winds hampered search efforts.

Rescue workers found Hill’s body around 10:15 p.m. on March 27 and brought it to shore at the boat launch at Lock Six Road in Killen. He was pronounced dead at the scene.

Grabryan said officials with the U.S. Coast Guard’s Nashville office arrived at the Fleet Harbor Boat Ramp on the TVA Reservation around 1 a.m. on March 28 to begin their investigation.

Information from: TimesDaily, http://www.timesdaily.com/

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