Cargo ship destroys docked boat then rams bridge

Cargo ship destroys docked boat then rams bridge

A boat was destroyed Sunday after being struck by a cargo ship on the Fox River in downtown Green Bay.

Cargo ship destroys docked boat then rams bridge

The Ray Nitschke Memorial Bridge is lowered Sunday evening after a ship hit it Sunday afternoon in downtown Green Bay. About 6 p.m. officials raised and lowered the bridge several times. The bridge, which carries Main Street traffic over the Fox River, was closed after the incident.

The Nitschke Bridge reopened about 7:12 p.m.

"It was crazy," said Elizabeth Feldhausen, who watched the incident while at Hagemeister to celebrate her niece's 24th birthday. "Everybody started running; this family ran out yelling, 'That's our boat!' It literally was gone in 30 seconds."

Like many others at Hagemeister, she recorded camera-phone video of the incident.

No injuries were reported.

Witnesses said a U.S. Coast Guard crew was on scene almost immediately. Feldhausen said someone from the Coast Guard cut free a gasoline can from the damaged boat just as it overturned.

Vehicular traffic, meanwhile, backed up on both sides of the bridge. The other bridges in Green Bay — the Walnut Street, Don A. Tilleman and Leo Frigo Memorial — remained open.

Cargo ship destroys docked boat then rams bridge

The Kaye E. Barker near the Ray Nitschke Memorial Bridge on Sunday shortly before the bridge was reported to be stuck.

The Barker, built in 1952 as the Edward B. Green, is 767 feet long and can carry 25,900 gross tons of cargo, according to the website of the Interlake Steamship Co., its owner.

The Barker had earlier delivered coal to the C. Reiss Coal Co on the river's western shore just south of the Tilleman Bridge at Mason Street. 

After striking the one boat, the ship missed a larger boat tied to the City Deck, Feldhausen said. She said a child had been playing near the water's edge minutes before the incident.

The Barker was renamed the Benson Ford in 1985, and the Kaye E. Barker — honoring the wife of Interlake's chairman — in 1989. It has undergone work at Bay Shipbuilding in Sturgeon Bay in 2012, according to the website.

The ship had just left C. Reiss Coal Co. south of Walnut Street and was backing north through the river when it got too close to the channel's east shore.

The owner of the destroyed boat had been enjoying lunch at Hagemeister when the incident occurred, Cornell said.

He said a woman told him, "We have a tab open, but we're going to take care of this first" before running to the river's edge to speak with the Coast Guard.

Follow Doug Schneider on Twitter: @PGDougSchneider



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