Sunday, July 16, 2000

2 Indiana fishermen die in crash on the Ohio

Towboat crew pulls third man from river

By Lew Moores
The Cincinnati Enquirer

        AURORA, Ind. — Two fishermen died after their fishing boat collided with a barge on the Ohio River near Aurora about 1:35 a.m. Saturday.

        A third fisherman survived the collision when he was pulled from the water by crewmen aboard the tow vessel City of Pittsburgh.

        Killed were James Kilpatrick, 78, and Harold A. Tyler, 68, both of Indianapolis. Surviving was DeWayne A. Alaxander, 31, also of Indianapolis.

        Authorities said Mr. Kilpatrick, who was operating the fishing boat, was Mr. Alaxander's grandfather.

        Conservation officers with the Indiana Department of Natural Resources said the 16-foot fishing boat was heading downriver when it collided with the barge, which was more than 700 feet long and traveling upriver.

        The collision threw all three men into the river, and all were pulled under when the barge struck the fishing boat a second time, the officers said.

        Mr. Alaxander, however, was able to pull himself clear of the barge and was rescued by crewmen.

        “The only reason we believe Mr. Alaxander is alive is because he found a rope and was able to pull himself to the side and resurface quickly,” said Bill Beville, an Indiana conservation officer. He said all three men were wearing life preservers.

        Mr. Tyler's body was quickly recovered by crew members aboard the tow vessel. Mr. Kilpatrick's body was recovered at 7:05 a.m. by water rescue teams from Dearborn County, Ind., and Boone County, Ky. Both bodies were released to the Boone County coroner, who will perform autopsies.

        “He was pretty traumatized,” Officer Beville said of Mr. Alaxander, who refused treatment.

        Officer Beville said that fishing for catfish is common at night on the Ohio River, and that it is not unusual for fishermen to make the 11/2-hour drive from Indianapolis to southeastern Indiana.

        Despite the amount of both commercial and recreational traffic on the Ohio, collisions are rare, Officer Beville said.

        “But it can be very hazardous,” Officer Beville said. “People need to be absolutely cautious of commercial traffic. Commercial vessels always have the right of way. You've got megatons of weight there.

        “It takes a fully loaded barge going 10 miles an hour a full mile to come to a complete stop,” he said.


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