Out-of-control freighter crushes boat, crashes into Green Bay bridge

Pauline Gross
July 18, 2017

Curt Cornell has worked at Green Bay's Hagemeister Park for six summers, but he'd never seen anything like what happened Sunday afternoon.

"The back end tried to turn but as it turned it hit the docks and it flipped over a couple of kayaks and it crushed this one little boat nearly like an aluminum can", Greta Olsen described to WFRV.

Witnesses say prior to striking the bridge, the large vessel collided with smaller boats, causing them to capsize. A short time later, crunching could be heard on the video as the vessel pushed the smaller boat into the dock.

"The freighter had left town."

Interlake Steamship Co., which owns the ship, said the captain experienced "unexpected and strong currents" as he backed the boat out of the Fox River towards Green Bay and Lake Michigan. Green Bay Police have since reopened the bridge. Feldhausen said someone from the Coast Guard cut free a gasoline can from the damaged boat just as it overturned.

Bulk carrier KAYE E BARKER allided with raised bridge, Lake Michigan

Warych added that coast guard officials were able to to make contact with the cargo ship on a marine radio to get the captain to stop, apparently unaware of what he left in his wake.

Thomas Wynne, the Vice President and General Counsel for Interlake Steamship Company, released a statement late Sunday night.

The Kaye E. Barker was making its way along the Fox River when it hit the CityDeck, destroying a 16-foot boat before it smacked into the Ray Nitschke Memorial Bridge.

Bridge remained open for more than two hours, understood for a safety check, because bulk carrier contacted fenders, not bridge itself, so bridge wasn't damaged.

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