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Tugboat Explodes Along Tennessee River in Kentucky Tragically Killing 3 Workers and Injuring 6

Three workers were tragically killed on Friday, after a tugboat docked along the Tennessee River in Kentucky exploded while it was undergoing repairs.

Six other workers were injured in the January 19th blast, some of them seriously.

Tugboat Exploded with 41 Aboard – Explosion Followed by Flash Fire

The explosion was heard shortly after 9 a.m. CST outside Calvert City, Kentucky at a repair yard owned by First Marine LLC.

41 workers from 4 companies were aboard the tug at the time.

The blast appears to have occurred inside the vessel and was followed by a flash fire.

The U.S. Coast Guard and numerous local emergency agencies responded to the incident.

Workers from Louisiana and Kentucky Pronounced Dead at Scene

Three men were tragically pronounced dead at the scene:

  • Timothy L. Wright, 52, of Calvert City, Kentucky
  • Jerome A. Smith, 56, of Thibodaux, Louisiana
  • Quentin J. Stewart, 41, of Opelousas, Louisiana

Six workers were taken to area hospitals, including two who were transported to Vanderbilt Medical Center in Nashville, Tennessee.

Injuries are said to range from minor to serious.

Investigation into Cause of Tugboat Explosion Continues

The Kentucky Secretary of State lists the vessel’s owner as Paducah-based Western Rivers Boat Management. However, the U.S. Coast Guard identified the owner as Smithland Towing, also headquartered in Paducah. Both companies list the same officers and address.

It’s not clear what caused the explosion, though foul play is not suspected.

“Any time we have multiple fatalities at the scene of an explosion or any other kind of an incident, then it is definitely, I can’t think of a good word to describe it other than it’s an abnormal incident,” Kentucky State Trooper Jody Cash said during a news conference on Friday. “And that’s probably one of the reasons they asked us to do a full investigation to make sure there was nothing strange going on.”

Father and Son Seriously Injured in Tugboat Explosion

Those hurt in the explosion included Jimmy Lang and his son, James.

James was taken to Vanderbilt Medical Center with severe burns all over his hands and face, as well as a broken foot.

His father is in stable condition at Deaconess Midtown Hospital in Evansville, Indiana. He sustained broken bones and internal injuries and is now on a ventilator.

Tyler Wedeking, who was working on the upper deck of the tugboat with the Langs, has been credited with saving them.

Wedeking suffered burns to the hands and face. He was also taken to Vanderbilt and has since been released.

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Our Undefeated Maritime Lawyers are investigating the Kentucky tugboat explosion and will post an update should additional information become available.

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If you or a loved one were injured in a maritime accident or explosion, and you have questions about your legal options, contact our Undefeated Offshore Injury Lawyers at 1-888-603-3636 or  click here to send us a confidential email through our “Contact Form.”

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