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NTSB: Boat sinking probably caused by pilot, oversight error

Posted at 12:37 PM, Feb 15, 2019
and last updated 2019-02-15 12:37:33-05

MEMPHIS, Tenn. (AP) — Federal officials say the sinking of a towboat in the Mississippi River was probably caused by the boat pilot's mistake and lack of oversight of the vessel.

The National Transportation and Safety Board reports the pilot had decided to operate the boat with unsecured deck hatches when the 66-foot Ricky Robinson capsized and sank near Memphis, Tennessee, on Dec. 8, 2017.

The NTSB says the pilot went at a speed that resulted in water on deck and aft flooding, resulting in the death of the deckhand, whose body was found inside the wreckage nine days after the vessel sank. The pilot is presumed dead.

The NTSB said the boat company, Wepfer Marine, had inadequate oversight over the crew's handling of the hatches, contributing to the sinking.