Rescue after restaurant floats away
Published 12/03/2011 | 15:22
A seafood restaurant on a barge has broken from its moorings on the flood-swollen Ohio River in Kentucky and drifted away during the dinner rush.
Emergency crews rescued 83 patrons from Jeff Ruby's Waterfront restaurant in Covington using a precarious gangplank of ladders and ropes, authorities said.
Fire department captain Chris Kiely said diners used mobile phones to call for help on Friday night as the restaurant floated 90 metres downstream. Everyone on board, including former American football star Cris Collinsworth, is safe after the rescue, which lasted hours, Mr Kiely said.
All were led off one at a time, wearing lifejackets.
TV footage of the rescue showed diners pacing back and forth on the barge as firefighters put up the makeshift bridge of ladders over the swirling, debris-filled water. Work boats edged close to the barge amid the flashing lights of fire trucks.
Customer Kathy Kinane told a TV station everyone on board had remained calm. "The staff ... did a great job, and everybody was in good spirits," she said.
Mr Kiely said the barge's gangplanks tore away or were badly damaged so that everyone on board was cut off.
"There were three gangplanks on the restaurant already and when it broke loose it destroyed sections ... the last six metres of the gangplanks were destroyed as the boat moved downriver," he said.
Mr Kiely said he saw Collinsworth - the former Cincinnati Bengals star wide receiver and NBC pro football commentator - among those rescued.
Rob Carlisle, one of the owners of C&B Marine of Covington, said the restaurant had become wedged against the Clay Wade Bailey Bridge, one of several linking Cincinnati with northern Kentucky. "If the bridge wasn't there it could have travelled down the river quite a way," he said.