Families sue over barge collision that killed relatives

Published 5:10 pm Tuesday, February 11, 2020

Families of two crew members killed in a barge collision on the Mississippi River have filed a wrongful death lawsuit against the boats’ owners, saying the vessels weren’t seaworthy and the crash could have been avoided.

Matthew Brigalia and Shawn Pucheu were among three crew members whose bodies weren’t recovered after their barge, the RC Creppel, sank in the river after the crash Jan. 26 in St. Charles Parish, Louisiana.

A wrongful death suit was filed in Orleans Parish Civil District Court by Brigalia and Pucheu’s families, The Times-Picayune/ The New Orleans Advocate reported.

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The families are seeking compensation for pain and suffering as well as economic losses from Elite Towing, which owned the RC Creppel, as well as American River Transportation, owner of Cooperative Spirit, a second vessel in the collision.

David Flotte, an attorney for American River Transportation, said he company is cooperating with investigators but declined to comment further. Elton Ford Duncan III, listed in court records as an attorney for Elite Towing, did not immediately return a phone message Monday.

The Coast Guard and the National Transportation Safety Board are investigating the cause of the crash.