Search Underway for Missing Towboat Crewmember on Ohio River

File image courtesy USCG Sector Ohio Valley

Published Jul 5, 2020 4:57 PM by The Maritime Executive

[Brief] The U.S. Coast Guard has launched a man-overboard search on the Ohio River near Alton, Indiana. 

Watchstanders at Coast Guard Sector Ohio Valley received a report at about 1200 hours that a deckhand from a towing vessel had gone overboard without a life jacket. The position of the MOB incident was believed to be between river mile marker 675 and mile marker 700.

The male deckhand was described to be in his 50s, about 280 pounds and 5 feet 10 inches tall.

The Meade County Fire Department and the Indiana Department of Conservation are participating in the search. 

The outcome of the search is not yet known, but man-overboard incidents are often fatal, and they are the leading cause of death in the towboat industry. Crew fatalities have been on the decline for years, according to the industry association American Waterways Operators (AWO), and are now consistently in the single digits annually. 

Over the period from 2000-2018, man-overboards were by far the most common cause of death, accounting for more than twice the number of the next largest category, according to AWO.