Tugboat crewmember Piper Cameron, 26, was killed Tuesday, February 20th, in a tugboat accident a couple of miles off Marina del Rey, said Los Angeles County Sheriff’s Department homicide detective Robert Harris.
Piper’s co-worker, Scott Dekraii, 38, was also injured aboard the Emma Foss in his attempt to help her, said Harris.
Two other crewmembers were on board but were not injured. All four were employees of Foss Maritime Company.
The tugboat accident occurred at about 10:55 a.m. Tuesday, February 20th, and was described by Harris as a “very, very tragic accident.”
The crewmembers on the tug were towing a barge, and as they were attempting to release the barge, one of the towlines that ran between the tugboat and barge became “taut, like a whip,” said Harris. “It snapped her [Cameron] into the railing of the ship.”
Dekraii was injured attempting to help her, said Harris.
The tug’s captain immediately radioed for help.
Personnel from the U.S. Coast Guard, the Los Angeles County Fire Department and the Marina Sheriff’s Station responded to the emergency at 11 a.m.
Cameron was taken to Centinela Freeman Regional Medical Center Marina Campus, where she was pronounced dead.
Dekraii was transported by helicopter to Harbor-UCLA Medical Center in Torrance.
At Argonaut press time, Dekraii — who reportedly received a severe injury to his right leg — was still in the hospital, according to Sam Sacco, a Foss Maritime spokesman.
“He is recovering,” said Sacco of Dekraii. “He had surgery on his right leg last night and the surgery was successful. His injuries are non-life-threatening. He’s recovering now, but is still in the hospital.”
Harris praised the ship’s crew and emergency personnel for doing a “really good job handling the aftermath” of the accident.
“A lot of heroic efforts were made to try to save her [Cam-eron],” said Harris. “Everybody did everything that they could’ve done.”
Harris said there were a lot of natural factors involved in the tugboat accident, including ocean swells and the movement of the two vessels.
“Attempting to control all these issues at once?” he said. “It was beyond human means to do so.”
“It was a tragic accident,” said Sacco. “This has been a really emotional time. It has been very tough for everyone.”
Foss Maritime is providing grief counseling services for coworkers impacted by Cam-eron’s death. Cameron, who lived in San Pedro, had been with the company since 2001, said Sacco.
“She was very well liked and people here are still stunned,” said Sacco. “This is a very tight-knit group of coworkers. It’s been very tough for everyone and there’s a grieving period that has to take place — and that is taking place. And the company is fully understanding of that.”
Coworkers of Cameron are being contacted through Foss Maritime’s Long Beach location, and are being “brought up to date and being informed about grief counseling services that are available,” Sacco said.
Sacco said the number one priority of Foss Maritime is to take care of the families impacted, and also the employees, whom Sacco calls “a second family.” “All of this has got to be treated in a way that’s dignified and respectful,” he said.