Search for missing barge worker ongoing

Published: Dec. 10, 2013 at 1:34 PM CST|Updated: Dec. 16, 2013 at 10:02 PM CST
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(Source: KFVS multimedia journalist Allison Twaits)
(Source: KFVS multimedia journalist Allison Twaits)

(KFVS) - Search crews were back out looking for a missing barge worker Monday who fell into the Ohio River on Dec. 10.

Acting McCracken County EMA Director Doug Harness says the search has been downgraded to a week to week search rather than a day to day search

Crews used sonar equipment and will continue so long as the search teams feel they are “making some sort of progress and if the conditions allow it.”

According to McCracken County rescue officials, the call came in just before 4 a.m. Tuesday, Dec. 10 and crews began searching near the Olmsted Locks and Dam. Dustin Allen Burnham, 27, of Metropolis, Ill. fell off a barge belonging to Hunter Sand & Gravel around 3:30 a.m. while crossing between a dredger and towing vessel around the Ohio River mile 954 near Joppa, Ill.  The 954 mile marker is located near the McCracken/Ballard County line on the Kentucky side of the river.

Crews are searched miles 952 to 970 along the Ohio River.

Massac County, Ill. and McCracken County, Ky. and Coast Guard rescue crews aided in the search.

There is currently no shore command post.

It is unknown if Burnham was wearing a work vest or life preserver when he fell in.

Burnham is described as a white male, 5’9, 170lbs, with brown hair and blue eyes. He was wearing blue jeans and a Carhart jacket.

Emergency Management agencies from both Kentucky and Illinois responded, as well as the United States Coast Guard. The search has been ongoing and will continue as weather and water conditions permit. The McCracken and Massac Co. Illinois Sheriff’s Departments are also involved in the investigation.

Hunter Sand & Gravel is working with the United States Coast Guard and Mine Safety Health Administration to try to determine what may have caused the accident. Hunter Marina continues to search the area around where the boat was when he fell in.

A company statement says "our prayers are with our fellow co-worker and his young family as the ordeal continues."

Hunter Sand & Gravel is a Nashville, Tennessee based sand and gravel company with operations in Ledbetter, Henderson, and Shawneetown, Kentucky, Caseyville, Illinois, and Nashville, Tennessee.

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