Coast Guard Charges 3 in McTeer Bridge Collision

BEAUFORT, S.C. – The Coast Guard issued complaints Saturday to three of the mariners involved in the April 26 striking of the McTeer Bridge in Beaufort.

Charged are Wright Gres, William Van Puffelen, and John O’linger of Savannah Marine Services Inc. Gres and Pufflen are each charged with one count of negligence and two counts of misconduct. O’Linger is charged with one count of misconduct for operating outside the scope of his Coast Guard license.

Gres was in charge of navigation of the tug Sara Kaitlin at the time of the collision and Van Puffelen was the master of the tug Sara Kaitlin. These charges incur a maximum possible total penalty of 12 months suspension of their Coast Guard merchant mariner licenses for each mariner.

O’Linger was serving aboard the tug William Breckinridge, which was not directly involved in the casualty. This charge incurs a maximum possible penalty of three months suspension of his Coast Guard merchant mariner license.

The incident is still under investigation and the final report will not be released to the public until it is completed, which could take several more months. During the course of the casualty investigation the Coast Guard may bring additional charges, or complaints, against other mariners and may pursue civil penalties against individuals or companies that contributed to the casualty.

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