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Search Suspended for 2 Crewmembers Missing In Port Aransas After Barge Explosion


The U.S. Coast Guard has suspended its search for 2 crewmembers missing since Friday, following a barge explosion and fire off the coast of Port Aransas, Texas.

The men were reported missing shortly after 4:30 a.m., when a forward section of a barge being towed by the tug, Buster Bouchard, exploded and caught fire.

The tug was located about 3 miles from the coast and pulling anchor when the blast occurred.

Six other crewmembers were able to safely escape the vessel.

The cause of the explosion is still under investigation.

Family of Missing Crewmember Speaks Out

On Sunday, the Coast Guard said it had conducted an exhaustive search for the missing men. The effort will resume if any new information regarding the status and location of the crewmembers becomes available.

The incident is being managed by a unified command consisting of the U.S. Coast Guard, Texas General Land Office and a representative of Bouchard Transportation, the vessel’s owner.

Authorities have not released the identities of the missing men. However, family members have identified one of the crewmembers as 28-year-old Zach Jackson of Salt Lake City, Utah.

In an interview with Corpus Christi television station KRIS, Zach’s brother, Morgan Jackson said Zach had been working for Bouchard Transportation since January of 2016. He was promoted to barge captain—a rank that sometimes takes years to reach—within just a month of starting.

“He was probably one of the smartest guys I know when it came to everything that he was doing,” Morgan Jackson said. “I don’t know how he learned as much as he learned, but he was able to do it.”

“We’re all just waiting,” he continued “That’s the biggest thought, is ‘when is the phone going to ring?’ I just really want to know what happened. My parents want to know what happened. My family wants to know what happened.”

Crews Working to Clean Oil from Mustang & South Padre Islands

The barge was carrying around 132,000 gallons of crude oil when it exploded. The Coast Guard indicated on Sunday that oil leaking from the vessel had been contained, following the removal of 2,500 barrels of oil-water mix from the barge through lightering operations.

An offshore cleaning crew has collected about 1,100 gallons of oil-water mix.

By Saturday, oil had washed up on Mustang Island, a barrier island in the Gulf of Mexico about 14 miles from the site of the barge explosion. Discharged oil has also been reported at South Padre Island as well.

More than 5 dozen workers who were dispatched to clean up the oil from the beaches have already recovered 34 cubic yards of oil, sand, and debris mixture.

Two wildlife response teams were also deployed between the Padre Island National Seashore and Port Aransas.

The public has been warned to stay away from the oil and to not touch or handle it.

Entrance to Corpus Christi Ship Channel Reopens

The Coast Guard closed jetty channels and the entry to the Corpus Christi Ship Channel over the weekend to prevent oil from making its way into port.  The entrance channel has since been reopened to inbound and outbound traffic.

The barge remains anchored 3 miles from shore. Deflection and protection booms remained in place inside the channel as a precaution, and the Coast Guard continues to maintain a 1,000-yard safety zone around the vessel.

Have Questions About the Port Aransas Barge Explosion? Contact Our Undefeated Maritime Lawyers at 1-888-603-3636 or by Clicking Here.

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