Tugboat captain, company guilty in 2005 explosion that killed crew member

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Monday, June 9, 2014

CHICAGO (WLS) -- Captain Dennis Michael Egan and his family's company, Egan Marine Corp., were convicted Monday in the 2005 explosion of a petroleum barge in the Chicago Sanitary and Ship Canal that killed a crew member.

Alexander Oliva, 29, was killed on January 19, 2005, when the Egan Marine tank barge EMC-423 exploded near the Cicero Bridge. His body was found in the Chicago Sanitary and Ship Canal on February 4, 2005.

The barge, which was carrying 600,000 gallons of slurry oil from the ExxonMobil Oil Corp., exploded when Oliva used a propane-fueled flame to heat the slurry. Judge Zagel ruled that Oliva's death resulted from the explosion and the negligence that created the explosion.

"Without question it is against Coast Guard regulations, the standard of care, and is downright reckless, to employ the use of a propane torch on top of 600,000 gallons of a petroleum by-product," the government argued in closing.

Egan, 35, of Topeka, Ill., and his company were found guilty of one count each of negligent manslaughter of a seaman and one count of oil pollution of a navigable waterway by U.S. District Judge James Zagel. The bench trial was held over 13 non-consecutive days.

Judge Zagel set a tentative sentencing date for September 24.

Egan faces a maximum of 10 years in prison and $250,000 fine on the negligent manslaughter charge and a year in prison and $100,000 fine in the misdemeanor oil pollution. The company faces a maximum penalty of five years of probation and a $500,000 fine on the negligence charge and a year's probation and $200,000 in the oil pollution charge.

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