An Alabama resident and master of an inland towing vessel was sentenced Thursday for a January 2004 incident where he was found to be operating in U.S. waters under the influence of alcohol.
Daniel L. Ferrell, 63, of Atmore Ala., was sentenced by Judge James J. Brady of the U.S. District Court in Baton Rouge, La., to serve two years probation, 100 hours of community service and will be required to participate in an alcohol assessment program.
On Jan. 16, 2004, Ferrell was piloting the City of Port Allen when it struck the Brusly Railroad Lift Bridge on the Port Allen-Morgan City alternate route waterway. Investigators from the Coast Guard's Marine Safety Unit in Baton Rouge who responded to the initial incident tested Ferrell for alcohol. Ferrell failed the test, blowing a .235 on the breathalyzer.
U.S. Attorney for the middle district of Louisiana, David R. Dugas, praised the investigative work of the Coast Guard and the West Baton Rouge Parish Sheriff's Office. "The professional work and cooperation of these two law enforcement agencies led to the successful prosecution of Mr. Ferrell," said Dugas.
Don Lane, the Special Agent in Charge of the Coast Guard's Investigation Service office in New Orleans, was very pleased with the outcome of the case.
"This sentencing sends a message that merchant mariners will be held accountable for their misconduct on the navigable waters of the United States," said Lane. "Licensed mariners must be held to a high standard, and vessel captains must be held accountable for their responsibilities and for the safety of the lives under their care."
This case marks the third time in the last 17 months that the Coast Guard has worked with U.S. Attorney's in Louisiana to rapidly remove and successfully bring charges against intoxicated vessel operators along the Lower Mississippi River system.
On Feb. 4, 2004, the Coast Guard received a call from a state pilot aboard the motor vessel Proikonissos, reporting the master appeared drunk. The master failed the breathalyzer administered by a team of investigators from Coast Guard Marine Safety Office New Orleans and he was arrested by CGIS. The U.S. Attorney in New Orleans charged the master and levied a fine of $5,000 and imposed a one-year suspension against him.
In October 2004, after reports that the master aboard the motor vessel Winner was assaulting his crew, MSO New Orleans responded, CGIS arrested the master and the U.S. Attorney again levied similar fines.