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Lake Michigan ATB crewman killed while conducting conveyor-belt maintenance

Jan 23, 2014 04:27 PM
The tug Undaunted and its barge Pere Marquette 41 at work in April 2013 at Sarnia, Ontario. In November, a crewman was killed while working on a conveyor belt aboard the barge.

Lorraine Morrill

The tug Undaunted and its barge Pere Marquette 41 at work in April 2013 at Sarnia, Ontario. In November, a crewman was killed while working on a conveyor belt aboard the barge.

A crewman aboard an articulated tug-barge hauling ash on Lake Michigan was killed when he became entangled in the barge’s conveyor belt.

Michael Douglas, 37, of Pentwater, Mich., was conducting mechanical maintenance on the conveyor when the incident occurred on the morning of Nov. 3, 2013, state and local police reported. The barge, the 384-foot Pere Marquette 41, was being guided from Muskegon to Charlevoix by the 133-foot tug Undaunted. The ATB is owned by Pere Marquette Shipping of Ludington.

Lt. Maria Wiener, a spokeswoman for U.S. Coast Guard Sector Lake Michigan, said the captain of the ATB radioed the Coast Guard at about 1150 that a crewman had died as the result of an accident on deck. The ATB was south of Ludington, its home port, with nine crewmembers aboard when the call came in.

The Coast Guard directed the ATB to Ludington and it arrived there at 1430. Personnel from the Michigan State Police, Ludington Police Department, Ludington Fire Department and emergency medical services participated in the response.

Wiener declined to comment on what might have led to the fatality, saying the Coast Guard was still investigating the cause. Skies were partly cloudy in the area at the time of the accident, with light winds and calm seas.

Douglas had worked for Pere Marquette Shipping since 2006 and had served as an equipment mechanic for four years. In a prepared statement, the company said Douglas was “a valued member of the crew and was highly respected by everyone on board. In the simple yet meaningful expression of those who go down to the sea in ships, he was a good shipmate and will be sorely missed.”

Terri Brown, a spokeswoman for Pere Marquette Shipping, said the company could not provide further comment because of the ongoing investigation.

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