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Lock and Dam 7 claims barge worker (07/07/2013)
By Chris Rogers

Submitted photo
     One died after a tugboat capsized and sank after crashing over the roller gates at Lock and Dam 7. The tug lost power while waiting to lock through upstream of the dam.
A Wisconsin man drowned after the tugboat he was working on was pulled into one of the roller gates at Lock and Dam 7, capsized, and sank. The two other crew members escaped after the boat went through the open roller gate and capsized. Daniel Degarmo, 61, of De Soto, Wis.; Cody Blank, 24, of Salem, Wis.; and Tyler James Troy Trussoni, 22, Genoa, Wis., were on the third level of the tugboat, waiting to lock through, when they encountered mechanical problems. In mid-shift, the crew was unable to get the boat's engine back into gear and, powerless, they were drawn into the dam, according to a report from the Winona County Sheriff's Department.

When the vessel capsized, Degarmo and Blank managed to break out a window and leapt into a waiting Lock and Dam 7 rescue boat. For unknown reasons, Trussoni was unable to escape the sinking vessel. After hours of recovery attempts by surface crews and a diving robot, divers recovered his body, wearing a lifejacket, inside the vessel.

"I've seen so many accidents that happen here, mainly because of equipment," Winona County Sheriff Dave Brand said of the locks. "Over the years, we've lost too many people. We feel sad that we have to rescue and recover people, but it's our job to help the families [of people who have drowned.]"

Winona County Sheriff's Department responded with assistance from Dakota and Dresbach rescue teams and other agencies, as well. Recovery divers from the tugboat company, Brennan Marine Inc., ultimately recovered Trussoni's body.

It will be weeks before a special floating crane arrives from the southern Mississippi River to recover the heavy tug, Sheriff's Department officials said.

On May 27, a houseboat sank after going through a roller gate at the same dam. Not one of the eleven people rescued was hurt, including one man, who miraculously survived plunging through one of the roller gates in a small motor boat. The houseboat is still at the bottom of the river, though the company that owned the rental vessel is required by law to recover it within 30 days. Brand said his department is working with the County Attorney on how to deal with the delinquent recovery. 


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