UPDATE 3/9/11@ 6 p.m.
GREENUP COUNTY, Ky. (WSAZ) -- With the Ohio River so high and swift, it can be hazardous to go boating in conditions like this.
But many industrial water crafts -- like towboats for example -- often have no choice.
On Tuesday night, a towboat sank in treacherous waters, and the pilot had to swim to safety
About 200 yards downriver from a small barge and docking station at the Wurtland Riverport -- just beyond a submerged tree line that usually is the shore line -- you can just make out an orange marker.
That’s why the U.S. Coast Guard is there, making sure other water craft steers clear. That’s where first responders say a small towboat named the "Joann McGinnis" sank about 10 p.m. Tuesday.
A Coast Guard officer says the towboat, with one pilot on board and the deck hand on the barge, likely was making sure the barge station was shored up due to the river conditions. That's when the trouble started.
“I think they were working to maintain the area, make sure things were safe," said Daniel Wheeler, a Coast Guard officer.
While doing that, the vessel started taking on water. That’s when the pilot took precautions to get off the boat safely and make it to shore.
It looks like a good swimmer could make that swim in a short time. The Coast Guard says it took the pilot 20 minutes. They say, with the speed of the river, it would be a very tough swim.
The best news here is -- by the time first responders arrived -- the pilot was safely ashore.
We’re told after being in that cold swift water for 20 minutes, the pilot was taken to the hospital. He is said to be doing OK.
The McGinnis Company owns the towboat and tells us an investigation into the sinking is ongoing.
It happened around 10 p.m. at a barge area of the Greenup County, Ky. river port.
The U.S. Coast Guard says the pilot of the Joanne McGinnis was on board and had to swim to shore which was only a short distance. They say the swim actually took about 20 minutes due the high water and swift current.
The McGinnis Company says the pilot is fine and that an investigation is underway into why the towboat sank.
The towboat was being used to shore up a barge, which was on the Ohio River.
A deckhand and the pilot were on the boat but were rescued from the water. The pilot is being taken to the hospital for evaluation.
There's no word yet on what caused the boat to sink.
Wurtland Fire Department crews pulled the men from the water.
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