LUDLOW, Ky. (FOX19) - A barge slammed into a marina on the Ohio River in Northern Kentucky early Wednesday, striking several boats and causing heavy damage to its restaurant and shoving part of it down river and onto the riverbanks, authorities said.
There is hundreds of thousands of dollars in damage to Ludlow Bromley Yacht Club off Elm Street in Ludlow, Kenton County Director Homeland Security and Emergency Management Steve Hensley told reporters in a briefing at the scene.
No injuries were reported, he said.
U.S. Coast Guard Supervisor Lt. Jim Brendel says the Ohio River remains closed between mile marker 472 and 476 until they are able to clear the debris from the middle of the river.
Some boats and debris are still floating in the water following the crash.
At this point, it’s a salvage operation, the Coast Guard said.
“We hope it doesn’t take too long. We’d like to get it done as soon as possible. It could carry into tomorrow. There’s a distinct possibility that might happen," Brendel said.
The Yacht Club restaurant and several docks are likely a total loss, he said.
He said investigations like this could take weeks or months.
Coast Guard officials have spoken to the barge captain. He was not injured and there is no damage to his 1,200-foot barge which was carrying rocks, sand, and gravel.
He said it will take a while before a full estimate can be made, but expects it will be costly.
The Coast Guard official was able to confirm the barge was operating outside his channel, but could not say how off course he was.
Officials say they already have some video they are looking at but are asking anyone who may have video of the crash to come forward.
Several emergency crews scrambled to the scene when it happened just after 6 a.m.
Initial reports stated some boats were adrift, some were taking on water and others had sunk, dispatchers said.
Our FOX19 NOW crew on scene saw at least four boats adrift at one point.
The entire marina restaurant sustained major damage, Hensley said.
A witness tells us the seating area was taken off and is stuck to the barge.
The kitchen is completely shoved up against rocks on the riverbank.
“I don’t know what we’re going to do. It’s just devastating,” one of the restaurant’s servers tells FOX19 NOW. “It was beautiful before and now it’s just destroyed.”
Crews remain on scene assessing the damage.
The U.S. Coast guard is investigating and interviewing the barge operator.
The towboat that caused the crash will remain on scene until the Coast Guard releases it.
It’s operated by Florida Marine Transport.
Meanwhile, the Coast Guard is asking boaters who dock there to be patient, especially boats that are currently floating in the middle of the river.
Ludlow Police Chief Scott Smith said it would be detrimental to the community to lose the yacht club and officials will encourage the operator to get it back up and running by next season and will do whatever they need to to help.
Both Scott and Hensley expressed surprise to have a barge lose control in the area.
The Coast Guard said they will give the all-clear on their radios when the river and marina area reopen.