NEWPORT, AR (KAIT) – The Mary Woods II has been a big concern for the town of Newport since it began to sink this past January. After four long months, citizens are now getting answers.
With the help of an outside company the Jacksonport State Park has learned what may have caused the Mary Wood 2 to sink. It's been a long process, but park officials are now hoping to start picking up some of the pieces.
"People have come...children have come over the years. They've brought their children back," says Jacksonport State Park Superintendent Mark Ballard. The Mary Wood has been a part of the park since 1967. "It's a real tragedy that we have to see it in this shape," Ballard says.
Since January the mystery has been how the boat went under. River Diving and Salvage raised the boat earlier this month. After the debris was removed, a discovery was made. "An inlet pipe and the side of the hull just above the waterline had a rusty hole in that pipe," says Ballard.
The pipe went into the hull and up to the deck. With all the snow and rain over the winter, the boat sat lower than normal causing water to fill up in the different compartments. "We weren't aware of that hole being there...the pipe has been cut off and a plate has been welded," says Ballard, to insure this never happens again.
Two suspects Richard Rife and Paul Morrison have been held at the Jackson County Jail since the end of January. Both charged with commercial burglary and criminal mischief in connection with the Mary Wood's sinking. Both are facing a $500,000 bond. The prosecuting attorney says the charges won't be dropped until official documents are received from River Diving and Salvage regarding the matter.
"No boat is completely unsinkable the titanic proved that. We'll at least be able to do some things to prevent this from happening again assuming we restore and reconstruct the boat," says Ballard
Ballard says their first step is to determine the cost to reconstruct, which will obviously cost a lot of money and further decisions will be made later down the road.