NTSB: Ship's Crew Ignored Warnings Before Western Kentucky Bridge Collapse

May 14, 2013

Federal investigators have concluded that the crew of a cargo ship ignored radioed and visual warnings about lights being out on a western Kentucky bridge in the moments leading up to a wreck. 

National Transportation Safety Board investigators said on Tuesday that the crew of the Delta Mariner used only visual cues and went under the wrong span of the Eggner's Ferry Bridge near Aurora, Ky., in January 2012.  The wreck tore down a 322-foot span of the bridge over the Tennessee River. 

Investigators also concluded that white warning lights on the bridge had been out for several years and other lights shorted out before the wreck.  The missing span halted traffic on U.S. 68 between the western shore of Kentucky Lake and the Land Between the Lakes National Recreation Area. 

Kentucky officials are seeking $7.1 million in damages from Foss Maritime. BellSouth Telecommunications filed a $59,000 damages claim, and the owners of a nearby restaurant filed a $33,000 claim for lost income while the bridge was being repaired for four months.

Foss Maritime has asked a federal judge to rule it was not responsible for causing the collapse because some of the bridge's lights were not working.