Two Missing, Four Rescued on James River after Boats Collide

Crews have suspended the search for two people missing on the James River since Saturday.

A recreational boat and an oyster barge collided Saturday morning near the James River bridge, sending six people into the water. Good Samaritans rescued four people, and a search was launched for the other two.

The Coast Guard (USCG) shut down the waterway between the James River Bridge and the Monitor Merrimac Memorial Bridge Tunnel while multiple agencies searched for the two missing boaters; it has since been reopened.

USCG says the oyster barge was being pushed by a tug, and they were headed for an oyster bed near the bridge when the barge and a 19-foot center console boat collided. The crew of another tug, Miss Hannah, called the Coast Guard at 7:44 a.m. when they saw the bow of the powerboat pop up behind the tug pushing the oyster barge.

The four people rescued by good Samaritans were taken to the hospital and are expected to be fine.

A Coast Guard helicopter and rescue boats, a Virginia Marine Police airplane, and search boats from Virginia Marine Resources Commission, Newport News Police and Fire, and Hampton Roads Police, all helped in the search, covering more than 200 square miles.

The Coast Guard and Virginia Marine Resources Commission are jointly investigating the cause of the incident.

“We would like to extend our condolences to those affected by this tragedy,” said Capt. Kevin Carroll, the commander of Coast Guard Sector Hampton Roads. “As a first responder, suspending a search is never an easy decision to make.”