KENOVA — A deckhand drowned just after midnight Tuesday following a accident aboard the Marathon Oil Corp.’s M/V Tri-State towboat.
Company officials identified the deceased as Gary C. Adams, 25, of Waterloo, Ohio. The deckhand had worked for Marathon for two and a half years, said spokeswoman Linda Casey.
Wayne County 911 received word of the incident about 12:30 a.m. Kenova Police Chief Bob McComas said the deceased fell from the towboat during an attempt to disconnect a final tie line. Adams was quickly sucked underneath the vessel. He died despite efforts of his fellow crew and that of a nearby towboat.
“It is with great sadness that we report (the death),” Casey said in a prepared release. “We are saddened by the loss of our fellow employee and offer our sympathy and prayers to his family, friends and co-workers.”
The incident happened at the Marathon loading docks, located off the 2300 block of Beech Street. McComas explained the accident occurred as the Tri-State’s crew untied the towboat from docked barges. Someone aboard the boat gave the “all clear,” mistakenly indicating all of the tie lines had been disconnected.
McComas said the deceased recognized one of the tie lines were still connected to the docked barge. He ran out to untie the line, as the operator throttled the towboat. That caused the boat to jerk, knocking the crew member overboard, McComas said. He was quickly sucked underneath the Tri-State and drowned.
“It was purely a tragic accident,” McComas said. “It was just an oversight.”
A nearby harbor boat, M/V Map Runner, moved to assist and recovered the man’s body minutes later. McComas said medical crews performed CPR at the scene to no avail.
Adams was pronounced dead at the scene. Casey said he was one of nine crew members aboard the M/V Tri-State at the time.
Tuesday’s incident was the first work-related fatality in its Marine group since Marathon’s formation as a company in 1998, Casey said. The company was conducting an internal investigation.
Investigators from the Kenova Police Department and U.S. Coast Guard remained on scene conducting interviews through 6:30 a.m. Tuesday. McComas said they found no evidence of negligence or foul play. No criminal charges will be filed, he said.
The U.S. Coast Guard is leading the investigation with assistance from the Kenova Police Department.