Caruthersville, MO Ferry Collision, July 1946


Caruthersville, Mo., July 29 -- (AP) -- The muddy Mississippi River was searched today for the bodies of at least ten persons, possibly more, who were believed to have perished in the collision of a ferry boat and two oil laden barges near here.
Thirteen other occupants of the ferry were saved after the flat boat overturned, dumping at least five vehicles and their passengers into the waters.
The accident occurred at 9:20 p.m. last night, 50 yards from the Missouri shore as the ferry neared completion of its crossing from the Tennessee side.
One was known dead. JERRY VICKERS, five-year-old son of MR. and MRS. CLAUDE VICKERS, JR., of Caruthersville died after he was brought to shore.
A brother, LARRY, 6, is among the ten missing. His parents were saved.

List of Missing.
Also missing are:
JESSE GUY of Caruthersville, ferry boat deckhand, and MRS. GUY, who boarded the boat with his supper.
L. L. GREEN of Caruthersville, Mo., circuit court clerk of Temiscot County.
JIM ED KELLY, 12, a rider in the GREEN automobile.
ROBERT WOOD, 22, of Caruthersville.
An infant child of MR. and MRS. G. W. MYERS, address not given.
JANICE EASTWOOD, 21, of Cronanville, Tenn.
ROBERT LEE EASTWOOD, 23, of Cronanville, Tenn.
ANN HOPSON, 21, of Cronanville, Tenn.
The pilot of the ferry, CHARLES HENDRICKS, who was saved when he was tossed on a barge in the crash, was quoted as estimating that there were between 20 and 25 persons in the five or six cars on the flat boat.
Other estimates ran as high as 30. One survivor said the ferry carried four automobiles and one pickup truck.
The ferry tug was demolished and sunk by the impact of the two oil barges, linked together and pushed by two tugs in a single train. The ferry overturned and floated down the river.
JERRY VICKERS died after he was brought to the shore by his mother.

Barges Carrying Oil.
The two barges, carrying 48,000 barrels of oil upstream from Jennings, La., bound for Mount Vernon, Ind., were the Z-8 and the Fred B. Zigler of the G. B. Zigler Towing Co., Jennings.
E. W. ROGERS, Vicksburg, Miss., the pilot on duty on the tugs pushing the barge at the time of the collision, said he gave blinker signals that he was going to pass upstream on the left or Missouri side. He said he saw no answer and that when he saw how close the boats were approaching it was too late to stop.
ROGERS said he held his barge against the ferry for a few moments after the collision hoping that some of its occupants would leap to his craft, but that in their panic those on the ferry were too excited to take advantage of the chance before their boat overturned.
The barges then backed downstream, ROGERS and PIERCE throwing out life preservers and aiding in bringing the swimming barge occupants to shore.
River authorities from Memphis notified authorities here that they would be here at noon (CDT) today to conduct an investigation.

Dixon Evening Telegraph Illinois 1946-07-29


Link to court case

Ferry Disaster

My father, Claude Gallian, and his brother Donald were passengers on this ferry. Another couple, along with their son and nephew, had taken them all to swim at Reel Foot Lake that day. My father passed away a few years ago so I'm not able to ask him more details but here are some that my family can recall:

The nephew said, "Look!" and they looked out the back window right before the barge hit the ferry.

People were not allowed out of their vehicles back then so this contributed to the amount of fatalities.

My father barely made it out alive. He was lucky enough to surface right by the edge of the barge. He remembered coming up and seeing his brother, Donald, saying the Lord's Prayer as he surfaced. The nephew and one of the parents did not survive.

Another man was found dead down river with a broken arm.

My father and his brother had to go to court in Memphis but I do not know the details. From what we can remember, the captain of the barge had been drinking but I do not know that for a fact.

Caruthersville, MO. Ferry Collusion

My mother was going to get on that boat, but it didn't happen. She watched the boat sink later!! She would tell me that story every time we used another ferry boat.

1946 ferry disaster


Was your maiden name Jowers? My mother lost two first cousins in that '46 accident.

My mother's mother was a Jowers.


ferry crash with barge

Robert Lee and Janice Eastwood were my second cousins. My family and I lived on Reelfoot lake at the time of this horrible accident. I was 8 years old, but still remember my father Norman Cecil overcome with grief, and he was on the river bank when Janice , who was next to the last body taken out of the water, (8) days,,,,a fisherman saw her head bobbing up and tied her to a fishing stump and notified the sheriff. The condition of her body was a sight my dad never forgot.


Are these some of the people who are all buried in a row inthe Carithersville cemetary in front of my Turnage family members. I was always obsessed as a child seeing all of the death dates being the same across the orw. My great aunt told me the story and i have never ridden a ferry since, and have had actual nightmares about it. I kept thinking it was 1954 instead of 46. was there another accident in 54?

Robert Woods

If I am correct Robert Wood should be Robert Woods. Sorry if I am mistaken.