Coast Guard can’t remove platform in river, but victim’s husband plans to light it


SOUTHPORT, NC (WWAY) — The Coast Guard says it cannot remove, mark or light an old quarantine platform in the Cape Fear River near Southport where a woman died in a boat accident last year. But the woman’s husband says that won’t keep him from doing something about it.

Ed and Barbara pierce and two friends were sailing after dark in August 2012 when they hit an old, concrete quarantine platform near the mouth of the river. Barbara died.

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In a letter to Rep. Mike McIntyre (D-7th District), Rear Adm. Steven Poulin, the Coast Guard’s Director of Government and Public Affairs, says the structure, built in 1895, is 165 yards outside the boundaries of the river’s marked navigable channel.

“Since the obstruction is outside of the marked navigable channel, it is also beyond the Coast Guard’s purview to remove,” Rear Adm. Poulin wrote. “However, should the State of North Carolina or other public or private entity, including the owner, decide to pursue marking or removing the structure, the Coast Guard would be available to provide technical assistance as necessary.”

Since his wife’s death Ed Pierce has made it his mission to get caution lights on the platform.

“I already made a decision that I was going to light that platform and actually purchased the appropriate marine amber solar powered lights out of my pocket,” Pierce said.

It was not clear in the letter who may own the platform.

He says he spent close to $400 dollars on the lights so no other family has to suffer the way his has.

“All kinds of things have come to light about the history of this and the fact that no one will lay claim to it,” Pierce said. “I still have in the back of my mind that someone is worried there is going to be some sort of lawsuit.”

Pierce, though, says he has no plans to sue. He hopes to put the lights on the platform this weekend.

Poulin’s letter said there are no Coast Guard, state or local records that document a case of a boat hitting the platform before the accident that killed Barbara Pierce of Wilmington on Aug. 4, 2012.

“Finding a solution that protects the safety of boaters while also recognizing the historical significance of this site is still the goal,” McIntyre said in a statement, “and we stand ready to work with the state and any others to achieve this.”

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