Crime

Dredging company charged in death of Mark Barhanovich

Barhanovich
Barhanovich

GULFPORT -- A dredging company has been charged criminally in the boating death of Biloxi businessman and philanthropist Mark Barhanovich.

The U.S. Attorney's Office filed the charge Friday against C.F. Bean LLC, a Louisiana-based company.

The business faces a charge of misconduct or neglect of ship officers resulting in the death of Barhanovich on Sept. 16, 2012. An initial court appearance in federal court had not been set as of Monday.

Barhanovich, 54, died after a boating accident near the eastern tip of Deer Island. His 23-foot fishing vessel struck an object that caused the outboard motor to break free from the stern. The motor flipped into the boat and its propeller struck him in the back, according to a previous report from the Mississippi Department of Marine Resources and the U.S. Coast Guard.

He died en route to Ocean Springs Hospital.

At least one childhood friend was boating with him when it happened.

Survivors include his wife Jerrie, two daughters and a son.

The Mississippi State Port Authority had awarded Bean a contract for dredging operations off Deer Island off the Biloxi shore. Bean had agreed to properly mark and light a floating dredge pipeline running 3,800 feet from the east end of Deer Island to a dredge barge named Bean 20.

Bean failed to properly mark and light the pipeline, and also was aware of other incidents in which boaters had struck the pipeline, the charging document said.

The company is accused of "negligence, neglect, violation of law and inattention to duties" resulting in Barhanovich's death.

Pipeline requirements

According to the bill of information, federal law required the company to put lights and shapes on its barge as a warning to boaters.

At night and in times of limited visibility, the company was required to have a row of flashing yellow lights visible "all around the horizon" and "visible for at least two miles" and equally spaced 10 or less meters apart where the pipeline crossed a navigable channel.

The company also was required to have two red lights at each end of the pipeline and at ends where the pipeline was separated to allow vessels to pass.

The charging document said the barge was required to have "two all-round red lights or two balls in a vertical line to indicate the side on which the obstruction exists" and "two all-round green lights or two diamonds in a vertical line to indicate the side on which another vessel may pas."

The accident occurred about 6:20 a.m. No details have been released on weather conditions.

The pipeline stretched between Deer Island and the barge in a popular path for recreational boaters from Biloxi's Back Bay and the Ocean Springs Harbor.

Pilings marked its route, sticking up from the water like a pier without boards, Greg Hebert of Amberjack Charters told the Sun Herald after the accident.

"Anyone taking off in a small boat for Horn Island early in the morning has a 50-50 change of hitting it," Hebert said.

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Lighted pilings and buoys were added after Barhanovich's death in accordance with federal navigational laws, a Coast Guard spokesman later told the Sun Herald.

'Pillar of community'

Barhanovich was lauded as a pillar of the community and a relentless volunteer who never boasted about his good deeds.

He was a leader and volunteer with numerous civic and charitable organizations. One of his favorite charities was the Biloxi Doll & Toy Fund, which he served for more than 25 years; he had been its president two years. He also was a supporter of the Salvation Army.

The Biloxi Lions Club had named him Father of the Year in 1999. His family has said it was the greatest honor of his life.

Barhanovich had coached his daughter Dana's softball team to a championship.

Biloxi named Circle Park on Porter Avenue after him following his death.

He was a parishioner for more than three decades at Our Lady of Fatima Catholic Church. An estimated 3,000 mourners, including Bishop Roger P. Morin of the Biloxi Diocese, attended his visitation.

Barhanovich was a standout football and basketball player at Biloxi High and a placekicker for the University of Southern Mississippi's Golden Eagles.

He also was known as an avid fisherman and bowler.

He was vice president of The Insurance Center and handled the health insurance of Biloxi employees.

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