River Pilot Michael Collins says he tried to steer the Delta Mariner through an alternate span of the western Kentucky Eggners Ferry Bridge with confidence he would clear the road deck prior to the accident. The Coast Guard and the National Transportation Safety Board have conducted a hearing this week, investigating the January crash that collapsed a portion of the bridge.
Pilot Collins has more than 30 years of experience with training from the Paducah Seamen’s Church Institute.
Collins says he thought he was advising the Chief Mate to transit a span directly to the right of the main channel. He said ships often traveled safely through that span. He didn’t realize the ship was actually transiting three spans down from the main channel until too late.
“I may have made tens of thousands of bridges. This one is the first one that fooled me. This on this light scheme it tricked me. Or I was set up, however you say it. And I’m not exactly sure how," Collins said.
Collin’s testimony will conclude the week’s hearing later today. Coast Guard and NTSB officials will then take time to complete a report on the facts leading up to the crash.