The captain of a towboat was missing after his vessel capsized on the Lower Mississippi River Monday night, Coast Guard officials said.

Two crewmembers escaped when the 54’x22’, 1,200-hp Seattle Slew was reported capsized at 8:12 p.m. near the Myrtle Grove Fleet, north of Point A La Hache, La., according to a statement from the Coast Guard 8th District.

The Seattle Slew is one of 26 vessels operated by Turn Services, a fleeting and shifting operator based in New Orleans. Television station WWL quoted law enforcement sources identifying the captain as David Mills.   

The river was closed to traffic between mile markers 55 and 58 as the Coast Guard, Plaquemines Parish Sheriff’s Department, Plaquemines Port Harbor and Terminal District, and Louisiana Department of Wildlife and Fisheries  searched for the captain by boat and an MH-65 Dolphin helicopter from Coast Guard Air Station New Orleans.

Just before 5 p.m. Tuesday Coast Guard officials said they had suspended the search. Turn Services located the sunken towboat at mile marker 57, and the river was reopened with restrictions calling for safe minimum speed and wide berth between mile markers 56 and 58.

The cause of the accident is under investigation. High water on the Mississippi has brought a series of mishaps and accidents, including two earlier towboat sinkings when crewmembers were able to escape safely.  

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.