Tugboat had previous problems before sinking, attorney says

Published: Feb. 15, 2019 at 10:16 PM CST
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MEMPHIS, TN (WMC) - The National Transportation Safety Board has released new details about the final moments on board a tugboat that sank in the Mississippi River.

The Wepfer Marine tugboat capsized in 2017 with Keith Pigram and 19-year-old Anquavious Jamison on board.

The NTSB report indicates a distress call from the tugboat sayng, “We’re going down.”

Moments later, the boat was underwater just off President’s Island.

It took days to recover the vessel.

The 19-year-old's body was still on the tugboat. Keith Pigram's body was never recovered.

The NTSB discovered the stern hatches were left open on the tug boat named the Ricky Robinson. They were to blame for the sinking along with Wepfer Marine's failure to address problems with the water tightness of the boat.

Attorney Aaron Neglia is suing on behalf of Jamison's mother.

Negila says previous deckhands had warned that the tugboat took on water in areas called voids and it had to be pumped out constantly.

"He stated he had the exact same issues on the Ricky Robinson. It was flooding in the bottom. It had constant leaks had to drain it," Negila said.

Neglia says, in his opinion, the boat was not safe or sea-worthy.

The NTSB also found that the door to the engine room was left open, increasing the amount of water the boat took on as it was sinking.

Neglia says the Ricky Robinson is now back on the Mississippi River.

He will be asking for more than $5 million.

“Nothing is going to bring back Anquavious to Ms. Newson,” Negila said.

Neglia is waiting on the report from the Coast Guard.

WMC contacted Wefer Marine and the company’s attorney.

We have not heard back.

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