Tugboat in fatal crash raised from Hudson riverbed; body of crewman recovered

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Darla Miles reports on the salvage operation for the tugboat involved in a deadly accident in the Hudson River.

The body of a crewman who was trapped in the mangled wreckage of a tugboat that sank after it crashed into a barge on the Hudson River was recovered Thursday as his family watched from the shoreline.

Family members of Harry Hernandez, 56, stood on a pier in Tarrytown, waving white flags adorned with pink hearts as they watched rescuers use a large crane to pull the 90-foot tugboat to the water's surface. A police boat later brought Hernandez's body to the shore.

"Many of his cousins were here and obviously it's been a traumatic experience for them over the course of many days," Westchester County Executive Rob Astorino told reporters at the scene Thursday. "The family has been trying to deal with this for quite a while, but today brings closure to them in many ways."

Two other crew members died in the March 12 collision when the tugboat, known as the Specialist, collided with a construction barge near where the new Tappan Zee Bridge, which connects two counties north of New York City, is being built.

Authorities said three tugboats were pushing a barge from Albany to Jersey City, New Jersey, when the Specialist - situated on the right side as it headed south - hit the stationary construction barge.

The bodies of the two other men, Paul Amon, 63, of Bayville, New Jersey, and Timothy Conklin, 29, of Westbury, were recovered in the two days after the collision.

Police divers had been unable to recover Hernandez's body because it was trapped in a mangled portion of the vessel, authorities have said.

The boat was raised from the riverbed with a massive crane.

The salvage operation began around 7 a.m. Thursday, as about a dozen divers went into the icy waters of the Hudson in Tarrytown.

The wreck could be seen half-way above the water a short time later, supported by straps from the crane.

Divers also worked to recover the body of Hernandez.

"The remains are going to be shown the dignity that they should," said Coast Guard spokesperson Charles Rowe.

In just under an hour, the tugboat was brought to the surface and investigators and recovery teams went on board.

With the remains of Hernandez freed from the wreckage, divers will focus on finding the logbook and the GPS device, two crucial pieces to determining what caused the tugboat to hit the barge.

A preliminary report is expected next week.

(The Associated Press contributed to this report.)

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boat accidenthudson riverTarrytown
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