Investigation still open in barge case

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A fishing trip on Long Island Sound proved fatal for a New York boater this summer when a barge collided with the anchored boat that she was fishing from.

A fishing trip on Long Island Sound proved fatal for a New York boater this summer when a barge collided with the anchored boat that she was fishing from.

Ociele Medina, 47, of Manhattan, was fishing with her boyfriend, 55-year-old Raphael Rivera, aboard his 24-foot powerboat south of the Execution Rocks Lighthouse June 10. The pair, who were accompanied by Rivera’s brother Efrain, who is 60, apparently failed to see a tug boat pushing a 324-foot barge in the channel directly toward them, Nassau County Police spokesperson Vincent Garcia says in an interview with Soundings. The barge collided with Rivera’s boat, sending the three anglers into the water.

The Coast Guard received a call over VHF at about 2:20 p.m. that three people were in the water and in need of assistance off Sand Point, the agency says in a statement. Rescue crews from a number of local towns responded to the call and pulled the Riveras and Medina from the water. The three were later taken to area hospitals for treatment. NassauCounty’s marine unit towed Rivera’s boat to shore.

Medina, who fell into a coma, was removed from life support June 17 and died. “Barges need to have a proper lookout to avoid situations like this,” says Frank Floriani, a lawyer with Sullivan Papain Block McGrath and Cannavo, the firm representing Medina’s estate. As of mid-July, Floriani had not seen the Coast Guard’s report of the incident as the agency’s investigation was still open.

“We are in the initial stages of our investigation of trying to find out the cause of the reported collision,” Coast Guard Lt. J.G. Mark Labert says in a statement.

Visibility the day of the collision was up to 10 miles, the Coast Guard says, and conditions were calm. Information such as the make/model of Rivera’s boat, and if the group was anchored in the shipping channel was not immediately available.

Floriani says his firm would consider pursuing lawsuits against Seaboats Inc., the Fall River, Mass.-based owners of the tug boat and barge, after it receives the Coast Guard report. “You can’t just run boats over,” he says.

At the time of the collision, Seaboats Inc.’s tug boat, Donald C., was pushing the Patriot — a double-hulled oil barge — from New York to New Haven, Conn. Seaboats Inc. did not respond to multiple requests for comment.