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Man’s body found a mile from crane

By Leonard Gray / L’Observateur / June 17, 1998

CONVENT – A man missing since June 11 was found dead on Monday, one mile downstream from the crane collapse at Illinois Central Gulf Railroad RailMarine terminal near Convent.

Joze Oblak, last seen in the control cab of the unloader, was found just past IMC-Agrico grain elevator, according to Bruce Conti, president of ICG RailMarine.

Conti added it would take at least two months to clear the wreckage of the crane from the ICG dock. First, underwater surveillance will have to bedone by divers to assess the problem.

After that, he continued, it will depend upon availability of divers and equipment to cut up and bring up the crane wreckage.

A General Electric employee injured in the accident, Adam Deleanides, was due to be released Tuesday from Our Lady of the Lake Hospital in Baton Rouge, Conti added.

The accident took place during weight-testing of the ship unloader, delivered on March 31 from the East European nation of Slovenia.

Other people injured included General Electric employee Darryl Rousselle, who was treated for his injuries and released from Our Lady of the Lake; ICG Rail Marine employee Cary Smith, who sustained a bruised leg, was treated at St. James Parish Hospital, Lutcher, and released; and Connex-Metalna employee Goran Rajgic, who sustained scratches on his arms and refused treatment. Also, three Associated Terminals workmen on a bargebelow the crane were slightly injured. They were identified as Roy Reed,Ivy Landry and Doug Stinson,were all treated at River Parishes Hospital, LaPlace, and released.

The crane was a Slovenian-manufactured, 1,200-ton crane, which extended 224 feet. Seemingly, during testing of load capacity, the craneover-extended itself and collapsed into the river in a rush of twisted metal.

Conti, however, could not yet verify that was the cause and said it was still under investigation.

Mitch Smith, director of harbor services for the Port of South Louisiana, reported the Coast Guard has notified river traffic and advised them to proceed with caution while salvage operations are going on.

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