The Tombigbee River remains closed near Coffeeville as crews prepare to retrieve the sunken boat
UPDATE (5:13 p.m. 1/14/22): The Tombigbee River is expected to reopen Jan. 14 around 6 p.m. To see the updated story, click here.
SILAS, Ala. (WKRG) – A survey team is assessing Coffeeville Lock and Dam on Wednesday for a pleasure boat that sank in the chamber on Saturday.
“As the vessel was lifted upriver the vessel began to list and then when it rolled over to the port side it rolled over and immediately sank,” said Robert Cox, supervisor of the lock and dam.
The driver of the 41ft boat was the sole occupant on board. He was able to climb a wall ladder and get out of the water safely. Cox says the boat left Dauphin Island and was heading north on the Tombigbee River.
“We have no details as to why it sank or what caused it to take on water, or if it was taking on water when it entered the chamber. We don’t know. none of that yet,” he added.
Now divers and a large barge from the US Army Corps of Engineers are on their way to the lock and dam, which are expected to arrive Wednesday evening to begin the process of removing the boat which is currently in about 50 feet of ‘water. Officials say even once the dive team arrives, it won’t be an easy task.
“It’s going to be a good chore for us to get this up and get it on a barge and put it in that parking lot,” Cox continued.
The closure of the lock and dam prevents recreational and commercial traffic. Today there are about 6 ships waiting for it to reopen.
“The commercial industry is under pressure right now until we can get this vessel up and out of the chamber. And more are coming,” Cox said.
He expects operations to resume by the weekend, but at this time Cox cannot give an exact date when it will reopen until work begins.