Waterfront restaurant breaks free from dock with patrons on board

COVINGTON, Ky. - Jeff Ruby's Waterfront restaurant broke free from its dock onthe Ohio River with at least 150 patrons on board Friday nightaround 10:15 p.m., according to the Covington PoliceDepartment.

The restaurant was lodged under the Clay Wade Bailey Bridge,which kept it from drifting down the river. Two tugboatssurrounding the restaurant kept it in place, as well. Those sameboats are still in place as of Saturday afternoon, keeping therestaurant from drifting off.

Crews used ladders and ropes to rescue everyone on board Fridaynight. A walking board was placed on top of the ladders in aneffort to evacuate more guests at a faster rate.  Authoritiessay the restaurant drifted about 100 yards from the dock.

People could only be rescued one at a time, which is why it tookseveral hours to evacuate the boat. No injuries were reported.

Despite the precarious situation, rescue crews, the Waterfrontstaff and restaurant guests remained calm throughout the entireprocess.

I did not sense anybody being panicked," said Kathy Kinane, acustomer, "I really didn't, We all would've like to have had theevacuation go a little bit quicker than it did."

Guests onboard include former Bengals wide receiver CrisCollinsworth, President of Cincinnati Bell Jack Cassidy, and ownerof the Waterfront, Jeff Ruby.

"I wanted all the guests to come off," Ruby said. "I wanted tobe there to talk to the guests to see if they were all okay. When Igot here, I knew everybody was safe and now I wanna go on and justapologize to them."

Sports Anchor Denny Janson contacted Collinsworth who was on theboat with his wife. According to Janson he sounded exasperated andstated he did not want to talk on TV because "it had been a longnight."

Janson also contacted former Bengals player Boomer Esiason viaemail to inform him of the situation. Boomer responded with, "Thanks Denny, I'm glad everyone is OK. Bad weather I guess."

The Waterfront's general manager Charlie Bledsoe told 9 News inan interview with reporter Adam Marshall on March 10 that therestaurant planned to remain open for business despite the floodingof the Ohio River.

The restaurant recently purchased temporary ramps that allowcustomers to safely get to the upper level parking lot to the frontdoors during high water situations.

"The Waterfront is the last dog standing. We are able to stayopen," said Bledsoe. He also stated that the only way theWaterfront would close it's doors during flooding would be if thecity forced them to do so.

"The water comes up every year and they've got a set of rampsthey put up and they've stayed open year after year," saidLieutenant Rob Ervin from the Covington Police Department. "They'reuse to it, I mean it's just a part of doing business down here onthe river."

The Ohio River is currently at 55.2 feet, which is considered amoderate flood level.

The Clay Wade Bridge was built in 1974 and named after aprominent Kentucky newspaper reporter. The bridge is 675 feet talland has a navigational channel beneath it, according to cincinnati-transit.net.

Ruby told 9 News crews that he plans to have engineers at therestaurant Saturday to inspect the restaurant so that he candetermine when his business can reopen.

Stay with 9 News and WCPO.com for updates on this breaking news story.

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