NTSB: Pilot decision, inadequate oversight led to sinking of towing vessel on Mississippi River

MEMPHIS, Tenn. —  The National Transportation Safety Board has determined that one of  the pilot’s decisions while traveling down the Mississippi River and inadequate oversight from the company led to the sinking of a  towing vessel more than a year ago.

According to the report, the pilot decided to make the trek up the river without securing the deck hatches at a speed that sent water up onto the deck, flooding the voids. But the report also noted that the company who owned the Ricky Robinson, Wepfer Marine, didn’t provide the appropriate oversight to make sure that crews kept those hatches closed. They also didn’t address “ongoing watertight issues with the voids.”

The tragic incident happened on December 8,  2017, leading to the death Anquavious Newson and the presumed death of his step-father Keith Pigram. Pigram’s body was never recovered.

The pair were reportedly near mile mark 733 -about three miles south of Mud Island- when the vessel began taking on water. The pilot made a distress call but the boat sank before first responders could arrive.

State and local crews searched for the boat and missing crew members for hours, but it wasn’t until about a week later that the vessel was pulled from the river along with Newson’s body.

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