Man injured after dredge dislodges dock, boat

Published 3:31 pm Friday, August 24, 2018

An Albert Lea man was injured Thursday in a crash involving the dredge used to clean Fountain Lake.

Gregg Stegenga, 57, was taken to Mayo Clinic Health System in Albert Lea after sustaining a large cut to his left leg.

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According to the Freeborn County Sheriff’s Office, the dredge, owned by J.F. Brennan, was working “fairly close” to a dock near Hatch Bridge on the southeast side of Edgewater Bay when it removed the silt the dock was on, causing the dock and connected pontoon boat to become loose and float in the water.

The dredge operator temporarily stopped the dredge, and Stegenga came out of his house and untied the front of the pontoon boat from the dock, according to the Sheriff’s Office. Breezy conditions caused the pontoon boat to drift toward the dredge.

The operator entered a flat-bottom boat connected to the dredge and threw a line to Stegenga, who was standing on a platform on the back of the pontoon boat, which struck the front right corner of the dredge, according to the Sheriff’s Office.

Stegenga then fell in the water and was cut by the front of the dredge near the hydraulic lines at about 6:50 p.m.

The Watershed District and dredge contractor are investigating.

The incident is not expected to impact the first phase of the project, which is expected to remove 617,000 cubic yards of sediment by 2019.

The dredge has been in Fountain Lake for more than two months.

Shell Rock River Watershed District Administrator Andy Henschel said the dredge was within its appropriate area at the time of the crash. He said all of the approximately 18 dock owners expected to be affected by dredging this year were notified by letter.

Henschel said the district worked with the city of Albert Lea to offer affected dock owners half-price rent this year because of the projected impact the dredge would have on dock use.

He said the dredge was moved to the middle of the lake following the crash.

“We take safety very seriously,” Henschel said.

About Sam Wilmes

Sam Wilmes covers crime, courts and government for the Albert Lea Tribune.

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