New York

Divers pull body of 2nd tugboat crew member from river; 3rd still missing

Site of a fatal collision in the water near the Tappan Zee Bridge in New York.

Site of a fatal collision in the water near the Tappan Zee Bridge in New York.  (Copyright 2016 The Associated Press. All rights reserved. This material may not be published, broadcast, rewritten or redistribu)

Divers pulled a second body from the Hudson River on Sunday after a tugboat crashed into a barge Saturday. The third crew member is still missing.

The 90-foot tugboat named Specialist slammed into a barge around 5:20 a.m. near where the new Tappan Zee Bridge, which connects two counties north of New York City, is being built, police said. The tugboat sank, spilling about 5,000 gallons of fuel into the water, authorities said.

The Coast Guard and several other agencies responded to the scene and searched for the missing crew members for much of the day Saturday. The Coast Guard called off its search by sunset and said it would remain suspended “pending further developments.” The search resumed on Sunday morning.

Westchester County Executive Robert Astorino identified the dead crewman as Paul Amon, 62, of Bayville, New Jersey. The other two crew members have yet to be identified.

Amon was pulled from the 40-degree water and was taken to the Westchester side of the river, where he was pronounced dead, according to The Journal News.

Gov. Andrew Cuomo said he had spoken to the family of one of other crew members on Saturday.

"This is a 29-year-old who had his whole life ahead of him. He was supposed to come home but was working a few more days because the company asked him to, and now it's doubtful he'll come home at all," Cuomo said. "That puts everything in perspective. ... Sometimes people go to work and they don't come home."

New York State Police divers scoured the water for about 12 hours after the crash. They used sonar equipment to determine the exact location of the sunken tugboat and said they needed to assess whether it was safe to send divers into the river to search for the remaining crewmen. Cuomo said officials believed the tug was wedged on the river bottom near the mid-span of the bridge, where it had crashed.

Authorities said three tugboats were pushing a barge from Albany to Jersey City, New Jersey, when one of the three — situated on the right side as it headed south — hit a stationary barge that was part of the Tappan Zee Bridge construction project.

A tugboat on the left side of the barge that was being pushed, as well as one that was pushing the barge from the rear, were not involved in the accident.

Cuomo said in a statement that 21 workers were on the bridge construction barge that was hit, but none of them was injured. He said it appeared the workers realized the barge was about to be struck and braced for impact. He added the construction barge was well lit at the time of the collision.

Cuomo said a team from the state Department of Environmental Conservation was on site with a private contractor and were deploying booms to contain the leaking diesel fuel. He said he did not expect any "long-term damage" as a result of the spill.

James Mercante, an attorney for the owner of Specialist, said the crew was licensed, competent and experienced personnel.

"It's a shocking, horrific marine tragedy," Mercante said. "Right now the company is more concerned with the families of the crew and mourning."

A spokeswoman for Tappan Zee Constructors, a consortium of companies building the new bridge, said the company is cooperating in the investigation.

The Associated Press contributed to this report.