Dredging company to pay maximum penalty for fatal Deer Island accident

Published: Oct. 27, 2015 at 8:37 PM CDT
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BILOXI, MS (WLOX) - A Louisiana dredging company admitted Tuesday that it didn't properly mark a dredge operation near Deer Island, and that oversight led to the death of Biloxi boater Mark Barhanovich

C.F. Bean, LLC pleaded guilty to the statute commonly referred to as the Seaman's Manslaughter Act. Bean was ordered to pay the maximum penalty of $500,000, placed on five years of probation, and ordered to pay a mandatory special assessment of $400.

Mark Barhanovich was fishing early on a Sunday morning when his boat struck a submerged object off the eastern tip of Deer Island. The boat's motor broke loose and went into the boat injuring Barhanovich. He later died from those injuries.

The dredge operation near Deer Island was associated with the port restoration project at the Mississippi State Port at Gulfport, which involved dredging and transporting dredge spoil materials to a site at Deer Island. The dredge barge Bean 20 was situated near Deer Island and received dredge spoils that were then pumped to the island through a dredge pipeline. Despite the requirements for properly marking and lighting the Bean 20 and its dredge pipeline, the company failed to do so.

"Boaters depend on dredging companies to properly follow rules for marking their dredge operations, so that mariners can avoid hazards that can prove highly dangerous or even fatal, as was the sad situation here," said U.S. Attorney Gregory Davis. "It is hard to understand how an experienced maritime business like this could have failed in its duty at such a high cost."

Davis praised the efforts of the U.S. Coast Guard Investigative Service, the U.S. Coast Guard Sector Mobile, and the Mississippi Department of Marine Resources for their diligent work in the investigation of this matter.

"As a lifesaving organization, the Coast Guard is saddened by any loss of life. Our condolences go out to the family of those involved in this tragic event. As an organization, we will continue to monitor our waterways of responsibility and to work closely with the U.S. Attorney's Office to support their efforts in holding offenders criminally accountable," said Eighth Coast Guard District Commander, Rear Admiral David R. Callahan.

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