Investigators: Rock caused boat to sink at LeClaire

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Crews work to sling the Stephen L Colby in preparation for lifting it from the Mississippi River (US Coast Guard photo by Petty Officer 1st Class Mariana OLeary)

Investigators say the boat that sank in the Mississippi River at LeClaire was damaged when it struck a rock.

The Stephen L. Colby was carrying nearly 100,000 gallons of petroleum products when it began taking on water the afternoon of Monday, November 25, 2013.

The 144-foot boat got close to shore before it sank in shallow water.  All nine crew members escaped unharmed.  An eight-mile stretch of the river was closed as crews cleaned up thousands of gallons of diesel fuel spilled into the water.

The hull of the vessel was damaged.

Although the investigation was not yet complete, a spokesman for the Coast Guard’s Marine Detachment in Rock Island said the gashes in the boat were consistent with hitting a rock.

Coast Guard Lt. Kody Stitz said the investigation would continue when they could examine the area after winter ice melts on the river.

For photos and more coverage of the Stephen L. Colby sinking and cleanup, click here.