Rowers like Jane Herald of Piermont said she’s been looking over her shoulder more when she’s out on the Hudson River.
“Free-floating barges, it’s not something you expect when you’re out there,” Herald told WCBS 880′s Sean Adams. “We’ve completely changed our routine here. We used to row up and north of the bridge. We don’t go through the bridge at all anymore.”
As CBS 2′s Janelle Burrell reported, an emergency dispatcher is heard on a 911 call asking first responders to rush to the scene.
“Can we have Department 13 send a marine unit out? Appears to be a barge floating south,” the dispatcher said. “The thing’s floating near the channel. See if they can get out there and anchor it before it hits something.”
The conditions were windy and choppy Sunday night when the construction barge broke from its mooring.
Piermont Fire Chief Bill Cavanaugh said it was a navigational hazard that could have caused an accident.
“Maybe a boat coming up not using radar, maybe someone in distress too. It was moving at a pretty good pace,” he told Adams.
A local couple spotted the drifting barge and alerted authorities.
“We were sitting out here in the early evening getting ready to have dinner,” the homeowner, who asked not be be identified, told Burrell. “Since my husband is a boater, he just had his eyes on it and kind of realized it was probably not moored.”
“Our marine boat got out there and was able to secure to the barge,” until a tug arrived, Cavanaugh said.
“Three guys actually, including myself, got on top and tied the barge to our fireboat and tried to gain control of it,” Piermont Fire Capt. Daniel Goswick told Burrell. “If you werent looking for it, you wouldnt have saw it.”
The firefighters who helped bring the barge in ruined their boat’s motor from the weight of the barge.
In a statement, the company Tappan Zee Constructors said safety is its number one priority. It is also conducting its own investigation and cooperating with authorities. The company said the barge was in a secure location.
The Rockland County Sheriff’s Office is investigating the incident.
This marks the second scare on the Hudson near the Tappan Zee in the past few months.
In July, a speed boat hit a barge at night, killing a bride to be and the groom’s best man.
The Coast Guard determined that the lighting was sufficient in the July incident, but this close call has some residents nervous.
“It’s like another accident waiting to happen,” one woman told Burrell.
“You dont want to hear about another tragedy, that’s for sure,” said another resident.
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