Coast Guard Hearing for Fatal Port Aransas Barge Explosion Begins
Last October, a fatal barge explosion occurred off the Port Aransas coast, killing two men. While one man’s body was found several days after the tragic incident, the second still has not be found. On November 2, our law firm filed a lawsuit on behalf of the presumed-dead sailor’s family. In that suit, we claimed that the company for which the decedent worked (Bouchard Transportation Company) had been grossly negligent in failing to properly train employees and maintain the safety standards set forth by authorities.
Yesterday, the Coast Guard hearing to investigate what happened that fateful October morning began.
For hours, the court heard emotional testimony with witnesses fighting back tears. The first witness to tell their story was a man who had been working aboard the tugboat that had been pulling the barge. He described his morning in the barge’s wheelhouse, talking with the two crew members who were killed in the blast. One moment, they were down on the bow. The next, there were flames, an explosion, and the two men were gone.
"Two people were killed in this explosion. It's an absolute tragedy, and my heart goes out to the families,” said Commander Nicole Rodriguez, Chief of Prevention for Houston-Galveston. “My heart goes out to the crew members who had to witness that who tried to save them. It's truly a tragedy, and my hope is that by sitting here they can truly understand what may have happened.”
The Coast Guard is seeking not only to understand what happened that morning, but what caused it and what can be done to prevent similar tragedies from happening in the future. The hearing is expected to last for the next two weeks with dozens of witnesses expected to tell their story.
Attorney Caj Boatright is helping the family left behind to fight for the answers they deserve and fight to get the truth about what happened. "Nothing's ever going to replace Zach, there's no doubt about that,” said Caj. “But any time you have something like this we find that at least knowing why, and holding people accountable certainly provides at least some sense of closure for the family.”
To learn more, watch a clip from KRIS 6 News discussing the hearing.