Probe into tour boat grounding underway

Updated: Aug. 21, 2020 at 7:35 PM EDT
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ALEXANDRIA BAY, N.Y. (WWNY) - An investigation is underway into what caused a Uncle Sam tour boat with 130 passengers to go aground Thursday in the St. Lawrence River.

The “Island Duchess” was back in Alexandria Bay Friday, after being towed back to home port Thursday night.

The United States Coast Guard says the boat hit something, but they are still figuring out what.

Lieutenant Commander Brent Mellen said the boat’s fuel tank was punctured and about 2,000 gallons of fuel went into the water.

Crews were trying Friday to see if any of that fuel can be recovered or there if there is any pollution.

Mellen said some of the fuel got into the water, as emergency crews were trying to pump water out of the boat.

“The fuel was in the same compartment that the water was coming in at so that mixture, had to be pumped off to save the vessel and the people onboard,” Mellen said.

In a statement Friday evening, the Coast Guard said even after searching, it had no sign of oil pollution on the river.

Meanwhile, the owner of Uncle Sam Boat Tours had praise Friday for his employees, who made sure all the passengers on the tour boat were safe.

“The crew did exactly as they were trained and did a great job,” said Ron Thomson.

The Coast Guard said they aren’t sure how long the investigation will take. Thomson said UncleSam Boat Tours will be able to continue its routes, but on a different schedule.

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