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August 24th, 2020

Orion Dredge Barge Explosion – 4 Crewmembers Found Killed and/or Missing

Around 8:00 a.m. on August 21, a dredging vessel hit an underwater pipeline. This caused an explosion that injured six Waymon L. Boyd crewmembers on the Orion Marine Group vessel and left four other members missing. The explosion caused a large fire that overcame the barge and a grain elevator in close proximity. Local crews had to shut down the supply line, which in turn allowed the fire to burn itself out. As a result, the Corpus Christi inner harbor was closed temporarily from the Harbor Bridge inward.

Four crewmembers from the dredge barge “Waymond L. Boyd” were killed or are missing. Numerous others were also injured as a result of the dredge striking a propane pipeline. Noted maritime lawyer Matthew Shaffer believes that the vessel owners will resort to filing a limitation of liability claim seeking to limit their responsibility to the value of the vessel after the explosion. Shaffer, who has practiced maritime law for 35 years and has represented injured workers and survivors of the Deep Water Horizon, El Faro and numerous other maritime disasters, says that the vessel owners will attempt to use the limitation action as a ‘get out free jail card’.

Injured Crewmembers Receiving Burn Treatments

At the time of the event, 19 crewmembers were aboard the barge. Six maritime workers were injured. Four of them were taken to CHRISTUS Spohn Shoreline. Three of them were later airlifted to San Antonio’s Brooke Army Medical Center (BAMC). They are receiving specialized burn treatment. Two other injured members were flown to Corpus Christi Medical Center-Bay Area via a U.S. Coast Guard helicopter. The Coast Guard and Port of Corpus Christi Police and Fire Departments are continuing their search for the four missing crewmembers. Currently, they have not identified the injured or missing members, but have confirmed that most of the barge’s crew live in the local area.

Orion Marine Group Owns the Waymon L. Boyd Barge

The Orion Marine Group, based in Houston, TX, owns the dredging barge. It was originally built as a diesel-powered hydraulic dredge but had undergone modifications to run on electric power. Corpus Christi Chief Executive Officer Sean Strawbridge said during a news conference that the barge was operating as a private client, not on behalf of the port. It is not clear what caused the vessel to contact the natural gas line, causing the explosion. The U.S. National Transportation Safety Board is leading the investigation due to the explosion involving a pipeline.

The Importance of an Experienced Maritime Lawyer

An experienced maritime lawyer has the knowledge and experience to defeat a limitation of liability claim. Shaffer is one of the few lawyers that have handled both pipeline and vessel explosions, as well as one of the very few lawyers in the country that have tried and successfully defeated a limitation claim. Shaffer recalls one case where a vessel owner attempted to limit its liability to $50,000 and Shaffer recovered $17.5 million for his client, one of the largest single injury maritime recoveries in history”

Call Our Maritime Injury Law Firm for a Free Consultation

At SMS Legal, we’re a team of maritime lawyers that has spent over five decades representing seamen, longshoremen, and other maritime workers. We’ve proudly recovered over $720 million dollars for our clients, including the largest single injury Jones Act settlement paid by the United States Government. Every member of our team has over 25 years of experience. If you or a loved one has been the victim of the Orion Barge Explosion, give us a call or fill out our contact form. We’re here for you to answer your questions, explain your rights, and fight for your reparations. Call us today to schedule your free consultation.

Photo CreditThe Associated Press

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