Abrupt Course Change Preceded Oil Tanker-Bay Bridge Scrape

The bar pilot at the helm of the oil tanker that struck the Bay Bridge made a sudden course change.

The bar pilot who steered an empty oil tanker into the Bay Bridge on Jan. 7 took a last-second course change and did so in a tricky current, according to reports.

61-year old Guy Kleess was supposed to navigate the 752-foot Overseas Reymar through a bridge opening called "Charlie-Delta," according to the San Jose Mercury News. The openings in the bridge are named for the support towers, which carry an alphabetical designation.

There is still no answer as to why Kleess, at the last second, steered northwest in order to sail through a different opening. When he did so, the tanker clipped the bridge's E tower at 11:18 AM, according to reports.

A condition known as "maximum current" was also in effect thanks to a falling tide, the newspaper reported.

The risky maneuver has been likened to a last-second lane change before a toll plaza on icy roads, according to the newspaper.

Kleess was well-rested, having waited 39 hours in between sailing ships out of the bay, and has passed drug and alcohol screening, the newspaper reported.

A radar beacon owned by CalTrans on the bridge was not working at the time of the accident, according to the newspaper.

Visibility was also down to a quarter mile due to heavy fog.

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