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Crews Working To Recover Grounded Tug Boat From Rocks

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CHICAGO (CBS) – A tugboat was being pulled out of Lake Michigan on Tuesday, after it blew an engine and ran aground on rocks off 39th Street Beach on Monday afternoon.

CBS 2’s Mike Puccinelli reports the tugboat Kimberly Selvick was towing two barges from Montrose Harbor to the Calumet River shipyards Monday afternoon when it hit rocks near 39th Street Beach, amid windy and wavy conditions.

The vessel blew one of its two 400-horsepower engines, and the remaining engine was not powerful enough to keep the tugboat under control and avoid the rocks close to the shore near 39th Street.

Mike Luhr, executive vice president of Luhr Bros. Inc., the contractor which leases the tugboat, described what happened after the engine blew.

“We were leaving the job site at Montrose Harbor. The seas became too rough to work. We were trying to get into safe harbor, and it got too bad, and the boat actually was picked up and slammed down on a rock close to shoreline here, and punctured the hull,” Luhr said.

The tugboat’s four crew members called 911 and abandoned ship, climbing on one of the barges until they were rescued.

The tugboat drifted very close to shore, coming to rest on rocks less than 100 feet from the concrete lake wall.

Tuesday morning, workers were busy setting up large pumps on the boat to pump water out of the hull so the boat could be lifted off the rocks, and hauled to a shipyard at 92nd Street.

Crews have since set up booms near the back of the tugboat to contain a small oil leak.

The boat has approximately 1,400 gallons of fuel on board, but most of it has been contained inside the vessel.

Members of the U.S. Coast Guard were on hand to monitor the recovery operation. CBS 2’s Derrick Blakley reports the tugboat won’t be going anywhere for a couple of days because the waves on Lake Michigan are just too rough for the salvage operation to proceed.