St. Louis, Mo. — A barge worker was killed Tuesday night on June 12, while attempting to rescue a family whose small bass boat got hung up on a group of barges stranding them in a marooned fishing boat on the Mississippi River near downtown St. Louis.
The barge worker fell into the river after handing off one of the young children to safety. Coast Guard spokesman, Lt. Colin Fogarty, called Hardman’s rescue attempt heroic.
“This truly is an example of Good Samaritans and epitomizes the Riverman’s Code: You see someone in distress, you try to assist,” Fogarty said.
Authorities said initial reports are that the fishing boat had run out of gas about 7 p.m., drifted about 1½ miles south of the Poplar Street Bridge and lodged against some barges, where it began taking on water.
“That’s a very precarious position,” Fogarty explained. “The river creates large wakes and currents and unnatural undertow around barges.”
They were apparently pushed under a barge by the current despite wearing life jackets, according to authorities. One of the workers, Jarvise Shelton of Villa Ridge, Ill., was able to grab a rope and get out from under the barge, but Hardman was held under the barge by the current for longer.
The two were eventually pulled from the water by other barge workers. Shelton suffered minor injuries. Hardman was critically hurt and died at a hospital just before 8 p.m.
“It’s a tragic loss,” Hammond said. “(Hardman) was a very good worker, loving husband and father.”