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Two People Rescued After Crane-Carrying Boat Overturns at Liberty Island

By DNAinfo Staff on April 6, 2012 10:50am  | Updated on April 6, 2012 4:38pm

A spud barge capsized at Liberty Island April 6, 2012.
A spud barge capsized at Liberty Island April 6, 2012.
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By Trevor Kapp and Julie Shapiro

DNAinfo Staff

DOWNTOWN — Rescue crews pulled two workers to safety Friday after a boat carrying a crane overturned near Liberty Island, the U.S. Coast Guard and National Park Service said.

The Katherine G., a spud barge, overturned at 9:46 a.m. as the crew was loading a 60-ton crane aboard and preparing to cast off from Liberty Island, the Coast Guard and National Park Service said.

Six people including a captain, three crew members, a crane operator and a park officer were aboard the boat when it shifted suddenly, sending the newly loaded crane crashing into the crane fixed to the boat's deck and knocking the vessel onto its side, said David Luchsinger, superintendent of the Statue of Liberty and Ellis Island.

Three of the people on the boat immediately jumped safely onto the nearby dock, and one more scrambled onto the part of the boat that stayed above the water, Luchsinger said.

But the boat's captain, Dave Spragus, and one crew member were tossed into New York Harbor.

A New York Waterway boat that was nearby rushed to the scene and used a ladder like the one used during the Miracle on the Hudson to pull the workers out of the water, Luchsinger said. The United States Park Police helped with the rescue as well.

One of the workers refused medical attention, but at least one was taken to Jersey City Medical Center with a possible knee injury, according to Luchsinger and the National Park Service.

"We were very fortunate, we were very blessed nobody got [seriously] hurt," Luchsinger said.

David Burns, a retired fire official from West Hallam, England who was visiting the Statue of Liberty and Ellis Island, witnessed the accident and rescue.

"The left side [of the boat] went up, and the right didn't," Burns said. "And the whole lot collapsed. One of the guys was doing a lot of shouting because he was in shock. He was swearing a lot."

Burns saw one person removed on a stretcher.

The crane that the boat was removing was part of the yearlong construction on the Statue of Liberty's pedestal, which is closed for renovations, Rambo said.