Belle crash sparks investigation

Posted by Noah Stubbs - email

LOUISVILLE, KY (WAVE) - The Belle of Louisville canceled its cruises for the remainder of the season, after the steamboat hit a barge on Saturday afternoon.

The accident happened about 1:45 p.m., as the steamboat cruised down the Ohio River.

Geraldine and John Brecht were aboard, when the accident happened.

They said about halfway into the ride, the boat ran into a barge as it was trying to turn around.

"We kept saying, this is an awfully long turn," Geraldine Brecht said.

The couple was celebrating a birthday with 8 other family members.

Birthday girl, Whitney Wright said they were seated and eating, when the accident happened.

"There was a jolt and from the back of us and there was a barge that was parked behind. They (crew members) said to remain seated that there had been an accident," Wright said.

Tugboats pulled the Belle of Louisville to safety.

Passenger, John Brecht said it took about an hour and a half to get back.

Chief Executive Officer, Linda Harris said the wind caused the boat to hit the barge.

About two-thirds of the paddle wheel's boards broke, including the main steel arm, which goes across the wheel.

There were about 280 people on board.

Crews do not know how much it will cost to repair the damage.

Harris said the crash is under investigation.

She said they have no reason to believe the crash was caused because of an error made by the captain.

"He has had many, many years on the water.  Both, doing the Belle, as well as doing other tug boats," Harris said.

Two elderly women were transported to the hospital.

EMS Director, Dr. Neil Richmond said they suffered minor injuries, from fell when the accident happened.

At this time, Harris said they do not believe they will reschedule cruises.  Any events scheduled for this season, they will hosted dockside.

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