Local man shares idea to prevent future boat and barge accidents

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After a boating accident in New York involving a barge killed two people, one Quad Cities man who also hit a barge is sharing his idea to prevent future accidents.

Jack Tumbleson is a member of the U.S. Coast Guard Auxiliary. He had 20 years of boating experience, when one night on his way in, he hit a barge.

“We clipped the stern as we spun away from it and the boat sank in about five minutes,” said Tumbleson.

He says barges at night can be dangerous when they are not properly lit.

“When an unlit barge and tows move across in front of you, it just makes a black area that is blacker than black,” said Tumbleson.

Tumbleson says adding a reflective tape to the barges, like red and white tape seen on semis, could help boaters see barges from a greater distance.

“If they just put a strip below the deck and then comes up to the hatches, you’d see a barge a half mile away,” he said.

The American Waterways Operators, the national trade association for the U.S. tugboat, tow boat and barge industry, wouldn’t comment specifically on the reflective tape concept, but say they are always looking for innovative ways to maintain safety.  They add the guidelines they follow are established by the U.S. Coast Guard.