Boat explosion in Kentucky leaves 3 dead
An explosion rocked a tugboat while it was docked for repairs in Kentucky, killing three people and injuring several others Friday, authorities said.
Work was being done on the vessel and dozens of people were either aboard the boat or at the site when the blast occurred shortly after 9 a.m. CST outside Calvert City, Kentucky State Police Detective Jody Cash said.
The explosion appeared to occur inside the boat, resulting in a flash fire, he said. Authorities offered no immediate word about a cause. There was no early indication of foul play, Cash said.
Some of the injuries were serious, he said.
The U.S. Coast Guard responded to the blast, along with numerous local emergency agencies. The Occupational Safety and Health Administration sent an investigator to the scene, Cash said.
The boat was still upright and had not sunk after the blast, the detective said. Several other boats were nearby, but damage appeared limited to the tugboat, he said.
Repair work was in progress on the tugboat when the explosion occurred, Cash said, but he didn’t immediately know what type of work was underway.
There were workers from four companies present when the blast occurred, state police said. The preliminary investigation indicated that 41 people were present, though not all were on the tugboat at the time of the explosion.
The three victims were pronounced dead at the scene, state police said. They were identified as Timothy L. Wright, 52, of Calvert City; Jerome A. Smith, 56, of Thibodaux, Louisiana; and Quentin J. Stewart, 41, of Opelousas, Louisiana.
Autopsies were scheduled for the victims.
Six people were taken to hospitals for injuries ranging from minor to serious, state police said. Two of them were taken to Vanderbilt University Medical Center in Nashville, Tennessee.
The blast occurred on property owned by First Marine along the Tennessee River, state police said.
State police identified the owner of the boat as Smithland Towing, while the Coast Guard identified the company as Western Rivers Boat Management. According to records with the Kentucky Secretary of State, the two companies are run by the same officers out of the same address in Paducah. A woman who answered the phone at Western Rivers said the company had no comment.