One Dead, One Injured After Fishing Boat Strikes Dredge Pipeline

Calcasieu River Ship Channel (file image)

Published Jul 5, 2019 1:54 PM by The Maritime Executive

The U.S. Coast Guard is investigating an allision between a boat and an underwater dredge pipeline on the Calcasieu River Ship Channel Wednesday. The accident resulted in one death and one injury, and the channel was closed for six hours for search and rescue operations. 

At about 0330 hours on Wednesday morning, Coast Guard Sector Houston-Galveston received a report that a man was thrown clear of his fishing skiff after striking a dredge pipeline on the Calcasieu River near Hackberry, Louisiana. After a search effort, a body matching the man's description was recovered. The Louisiana Department of Wildlife and Fisheries has identified the victim as Joseph J. Bergeron, 34. Bergeron was not wearing a life jacket. 

The second occupant of the boat sustained injuries but remained in the craft.

“The Coast Guard strongly encourages the Southwest Louisiana boating community to exercise caution when transiting near areas where dredging operations are taking place," said Lt. William Hickey, Marine Safety Unit Lake Charles prevention department chief. "Boaters should be on the lookout for potential hazards and operate at a speed that allows them to detect and avoid hazards safely."

A local fishing guide, Guy Standel, alleged that the dredging pipes are not properly lit to alert marine traffic to their presence. “These pipes are not lit up," Standel told local TV outlet KPLC. "Guys drive at night. I know an incident that happened about five years ago and luckily nobody was hurt. Sounds like it might not be the case this time.”

The Calcasieu River is a 70-mile-long deep draft navigation channel from the Gulf of Mexico to the Port of Lake Charles, Louisiana, a major petchem hub. Its middle reach requires maintenance dredging every two years, according to the Corps of Engineers.