UPDATE (5:13 p.m. 1/14/22): The Tombigbee river is set to reopen Jan. 14 at about 6 p.m. To view the updated story, click here.

ORIGINAL STORY

SILAS, Ala. (WKRG) – A survey team is assessing the Coffeeville Lock and Dam Wednesday searching for a recreational boat that sank in the chamber on Saturday.

“As the vessel was being lifted to the upstream side the vessel starting listing and then as it was listing to the port side it then rolled over and immediately sunk,” said Robert Cox, lock and dam supervisor.

The driver of the 41ft boat was the only occupant on board. He was able to climb a wall ladder and safely get out of the water. Cox says the boat left Dauphin Island and was headed north on the Tombigbee River. 

“We haven’t got any details on why it sunk or what caused it to start taking on water, or if he was taking on water when he entered the chamber. We don’t know any of that yet,” he added.

Now, divers and a large U.S. Army Corps of Engineers barge are on their way to the lock and dam, tentatively scheduled to arrive late Wednesday to begin the process of removing the boat that’s currently in about 50ft of water. Officials say even once the dive team arrives it’s not going to be an easy task.

“It’s going to be a pretty good chore for us to get this up and either get it on a barge and get it sitting in this parking lot,” continued Cox.

The lock and dam closure is keeping recreational and commercial traffic stopped. Today there are about 6 vessels waiting for it to reopen. 

“The commercial industry is right now in a strain until we can get this vessel up and out of the chamber. And others are coming,” said Cox. 

He expects operations to resume by the weekend, but right now Cox can’t give an exact date that it will reopen until the work begins.