A man and a woman were hurt when their boat became trapped underneath a barge that was being towed by a tug boat on the Ohio River early Tuesday morning, according to Pittsburgh public safety officials.
The incident was reported around 12:15 a.m. in the area below the Point and above the West End Bridge.
Public safety spokesman Chris Togneri said Pittsburgh River Rescue responded to the scene and found a boat with three adult passengers caught under the front right side of the barge.
The operator of the tug boat slowed and stopped the barge after seeing and hearing River Rescue’s lights and sirens, Togneri said.
The operator was unaware the boat was caught under it as the barge was empty and riding high, Togneri said.
Public safety officials said it appears as though the boaters called 911 for help after the boat became caught on the barge somewhere on the Monongahela River.
River Rescue brought the three adults onto the River Rescue boat and took them to the North Shore boathouse outside PNC Park. River Rescue then returned to the barge and freed the boat before towing it to the boathouse, Togneri said.
Public safety officials said the woman suffered minor lower leg injuries and the man suffered neck and back pain. A third man on the boat was not injured. Medics took them to a local hospital to be evaluated.
U.S. Coast Guard Ensign William Russell said the Coast Guard is investigating. It’s too early in the investigation to determine what happened, he said.
Neither police nor the Coast Guard released the names of the people involved.
It’s uncommon for something like this to happen, he said.
Between 2005 and 2017 there were 22 incidents involving 31 vessels on the Ohio River in Pennsylvania, according to statistics kept by the Coast Guard. In that span there were 14 injuries and six deaths as a result of those incidents, according to the Coast Guard.
In that same time span, there were 22 incidents involving 27 vessels on the Monongahela River in Pennsylvania, according to the Coast Guard. There were 14 injuries and six deaths in those incidents.
On the Allegheny River, there were 46 incidents involving 61 vessels during that period of time, the Coast Guard said. There were 27 injuries and 12 deaths in those incidents, according to the Coast Guard.
In 2017, the last year that statistics are available, there were four incidents involving five vessels on the Ohio River. Three people were hurt and two people were killed in those incidents, according to the Coast Guard.
On the Allegheny River in 2017, there was one incident involving two vessels and four people were hurt, according to the Coast Guard.
There was one incident on the Mon in 2017. It involved one vessel and one person was hurt, according to the Coast Guard.