Charges filed against captain in barge-skiff collision

CHESAPEAKE, Va. — The Associated Press is reporting that charges have been filed stemming from a Nov. 26 incident where a 120' barge pushed by the Albert Pikehit and sank a skiff belonging to a 77-year-old fisherman. As the skiff sank to the bottom of the Elizabeth River, the fisherman was rescued by the Pike’s crew.

William Spencer, who was captaining the Albert Pike at the time of incident, has been charged with operating a boat in a reckless manner. Spencer is apparently no longer serving in that capacity on the PikeSkanska USA Civil Southeast, which owns the 1,000 hp, 59'x20' tug, told the AP he is no longer an employee.

In an interview with the Virginian-Pilot immediately after the incident, the fisherman, James Phelps, said he didn't have time to start his engine to get out of the way of the barge's wake: "The wave just filled my boat up, and it went down," he said. "I couldn't do anything about it."

Spencer’s trial is set for March 6.