Amid lawsuit claims totaling $100 million, police in Westchester County, N.Y., are investigating a claim that the usual captain of a tugboat that sank near the Tappan Zee bridge in the Hudson River March 12, killing three crewmen, was piloting another tug while that boat’s captain was below deck, a local newspaper reported.

Citing a source familiar with the investigation of the Tappan Zee bridge sinking, The Journal News of Westchester reported June 23 that police were also looking into a witness claim that a woman not of the crew was on board the tug Realist when the Specialist allided with a construction barge and sank.

The 84’x26’x9’ 2,400-hp Specialist, operated by New York Marine Towing Inc., Montauk, N.Y., was moving a tower crane barge south on the river with the Realist and a third tug, the Trevor, when its starboard side hit a construction barge moored at the site of the new New York Thruway bridge around 5:20 a.m.

Paul Amon, 62, of Bayville, N.J., Timothy Conklin, 29, of Westbury, N.Y., and Harry Hernandez, 56, of Staten Island, N.Y. all died.

At the time Amon was at the wheel, while the Specialist’s usual captain Paul Crowley was running the Realist, as captain James Morrison was below deck, The Journal News reported. Morrison would not comment about the report of a woman on board, and said of Crowley, “I did my six-hour watch. He was doing a watch…Nobody ‘covered’ for anyone,” according to the newspaper.

The report came after families of the dead crew members filed claims in federal court totaling $100 million against New York Marine Towing; Weeks Marine, Cranford, N.J., which operates the tug Trevor; the bridge building consortium Tappan Zee Constructors; and Traylor Bros., Evansville, Ind., operators of the construction barge that the Specialist hit.

Contributing Editor Kirk Moore was a reporter for the Asbury Park Press for over 30 years before joining WorkBoat in 2015. He wrote several award-winning stories on marine, environmental, coastal and military issues that helped drive federal and state government policy changes. He has also been an editor for WorkBoat’s sister publication, National Fisherman, for over 25 years. Moore was awarded the Online News Association 2011 Knight Award for Public Service for the “Barnegat Bay Under Stress,” 2010 series that led to the New Jersey state government’s restoration plan. He lives in West Creek, N.J.