Verdict expected in Chicago barge explosion case

CHICAGO – A federal judge in Chicago is expected to issue a verdict this week in the case of a tugboat captain charged with negligence in a deadly 2005 explosion.

Closing arguments were heard Friday in the trial of 36-year-old Dennis Egan.

Prosecutors say he illegally allowed deckhand Alex Oliva to use a propane torch to unfreeze a cargo pump. That, they say, set off an explosion that killed Oliva, sank the barge and dumped 600,000 gallons of oil into the Chicago Sanitary and Ship Canal.

Egan’s attorney says he’s being unfairly blamed for a “tragic accident.”

According to the Chicago Sun-Times, defense attorney William Walters told the court there was no evidence Egan had allowed the torch to be used.

Judge James Zagel said he’ll issue a verdict Monday.