Boat struck rock jetty in the Chesapeake & Delaware Canal while on the way to help search for a missing boat. The operator has been charged with driving at an excessive speed.
Three Delaware City firefighters were injured when their boat hit a jetty and sank while they were on their way to help search for a missing boat early this morning.
Just after midnight today, at 12:18 a.m., the New Castle County 911 Center dispatched the Delaware City Fire Company as part of a search for a missing boat south of Artificial Island, according to a press release from the Delaware City Fire Company. The Port Penn Fire Company and DNREC's Division of Fish and Wildlife were also helping with the search.
While the Delaware City fireboat was traveling along the Chesapeake & Delaware Canal near the Reedy Point Bridge, the boat struck the jetty on the north side of the Chesapeake & Delaware Canal and went over the jetty. Water starting filling the hull of the vessel.
The operator and two crew members on board were thrown forward into the cabin console and suffered injuries.
The crew notified the 911 Center that the boat was sinking and personnel were evacuating. The 911 Center dispatched marine rescue units from Port Penn Fire Company, Goodwill Fire Company of New Castle, and Lower Alloways Creek Fire Company, along with Delaware State Police Aviation, the U.S. Coast Guard, and DNREC Division of Fish & Wildlife Marine Enforcement, to respond to the scene.
Fire Chief James D. Rosseel arrived on scene at Delaware City to command the incident.
Port Penn and Goodwill rescue units arrived and were able to rescue the three crew members from the jetty and took them to Delaware City docks for medical evaluation and transport to Christiana Hospital.
Delaware City’s second Marine Unit also responded to assist and provide assessment of the sunken vessel. Christiana and Odessa Basic Life Support Ambulances and New Castle County EMS provided medical care and transported the three personnel to Christiana Hospital for treatment and evaluation.
The operator of the Delaware City fireboat that hit the jetty suffered an ankle injury. The second crew member suffered facial injuries, and the third crew member suffered cuts, hip and back injuries. They are expected to remain at the hospital for evaluation through the day on Wednesday.
DNREC's Division Fish and Wildlife enforcement agents are investigating the incident and have charged the fireboat’s operator, Edward Kalinowski, 62, of Delaware City, with one count of negligence by operating at excessive speed, according to a DNREC press release.
The Delaware City Fire Company will also conduct an internal incident investigation.
Sea Tow Boat Salvage has been contacted and is developing a salvage operation.
The sunken boat, Delaware City's Fireboat 15, is a 34-foot Metalcraft Marine Aluminum hull vessel that was acquired in 2011 through the Port Security Grant.