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Coast Guard Convenes Hearing on Deadly Port Aransas Barge Explosion

The U.S. Coast Guard’s investigation into last year’s deadly barge explosion off the coast of Port Aransas, Texas, entered a new phase on Monday, as a joint hearing got underway in Houston to determine the cause of the blast.

Dozens of witnesses are scheduled to testify during the 2-week proceeding, which is being held in cooperation with the U.S. National Transportation Safety Board.

Barge Explosion Tragically Killed 2 Crew Members

The B. No. 255, a barge owned by Bouchard Transportation Co. Inc., was just 3 miles off the Texas coast when it blew up shortly before 4:30 a.m. on October 20, 2017.

2 crew members, Dujour Vanterpool, 26, of Houston, and Zachariah Jackson, 28, of Salt Lake City, Utah, were killed in the explosion.

While Vanterpool’s body was found several days later, Jackson’s remains were never recovered.

Jackson’s brother told KRSTV that his family is hoping that findings from the Coast Guard inquiry will help prevent similar catastrophes in the future.

“We want it to be safe for everybody, not just for that company, but for the industry. It could have been prevented, definitely,” Morgan Jackson said.

First Mate: “We were Constantly Finding Things We Needed to Fix”

During the hearing’s first day, investigators heard from Lonnie Roberts, First Mate aboard the Buster Bouchard tugboat, who testified that he saw blue flames surge across the deck of the barge  just prior to the explosion.

“That’s what I saw, the blue flames that were taking over that area where the guys were,” he said. “It was on a path…like the flames were following something.”

Roberts also fielded questions on the safety procedures followed aboard the vessel, specifically in relation to a fuel leak that was being monitored in a stern compartment.

“The tug had a lot of issues. We were constantly finding things we needed to fix,” Roberts stated. “From the point of view of guys on the tug, a lot of things were pushed off.”

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Our Undefeated Maritime Lawyers will continue to monitor developments related to the Port Aransas barge explosion and will post additional updates if new information becomes available.

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