Chief Brack: Fatigue played role in fire department boat crash

Published: Jul. 19, 2013 at 6:06 PM EDT|Updated: Jul. 19, 2013 at 9:11 PM EDT
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CHARLESTON, SC (WCSC) - The Charleston Fire Department released more details Friday regarding the mid-April incident which left their boat significantly damaged.

Chief Karen Brack spoke Friday afternoon about the investigation, and released the Coast Guard's review into the incident, investigative findings, and follow-up actions taken since the Apr. 13 accident.

The boat was headed to the South Jetty off Sullivan's Island around 10:30 p.m. to provide aid for Navy crews aboard a 34-foot patrol vessel which had run aground when it struck a buoy in the harbor and started taking on water.  Another Navy boat ended up running aground while responding to the incident as well.

Brack said new policies have since been presented to prevent this from happening again. Firefighters will train with the Coast Guard to ensure both sides are on the same page.

Earlier this week, the Navy relieved Captain Adrian Garcia of his duties.  A press release by the Navy Expeditionary Combat Command states Garcia, who was the acting commanding officer at the time of the incident, "demonstrated unsound judgement and poor operational risk management decision-making, failing to take responsible steps to prevent the incident from happening."

Brack said fatigue also played a role in the incident, as crew member had been on duty for 15 hours.

Navy officials say that one of the patrol boats was damaged beyond repair, while the other is set to be repaired. According to the Navy, the six crew members of the two boats were injured but have all been released from the hospital.

Officials originally estimated it would take six months to file the report, but Chief Brack said the fire department worked closely with the Coast Guard to get the report out sooner.