At press time, U.S. Coast Guard from Marine Safety Office (MSO) St. Louis investigators were trying to determine the cause of the sinking of the towing vessel Patty Ann, while the Missouri Highway Patrol searched the Mississippi River for Patty Ann's operator, John Distefano.
The boat sank at about 11:50 p.m. on Feb. 27 at mile marker 127.2, at the Tower Rock Stone Fleet, on the Upper Mississippi River, approximately three miles north of Ste. Genevieve, Mo.
Preliminary reports indicated that two deckhands, Nathan Bauman of Ste. Genevieve, and Eric Mathews of Praire du Rocher, Ill., were able to climb aboard a barge adjacent to the Patty Ann as the towboat began to sink. While aboard the barge, the deckhands could see Distefano along the railing of the Patty Ann, attempting to escape from the vessel as it sank. It is not clear whether or not Distefano had time to don a life jacket.
No pollution has been reported in conjunction with the sinking of the Patty Ann and there are no indications of a collision, grounding, or allision immediately preceding the sinking of the boat.
Okie Moore Diving and Salvage of St. Charles, Mo., has arrived on scene and will survey the accident sight this afternoon. With the survey completed, the salvage team will develop a salvage plan for the Coast Guard's review.
Patty Ann is a 1,300 hp, 65-ft. towing vessel owned by Tower Rock Stone Company, a division of Luhr Bros
., Inc., of Columbia, Ill.