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Massive Crane Raises Sunken Tugboat From Hudson River; Body Of Trapped Crewman Removed

TARRYTOWN, N.Y. (CBSNewYork) -- The body of the third crewman who died when their tugboat crashed into a barge near the Tappan Zee Bridge and sank in the Hudson River has been recovered from the wreckage.

The body of 56-year-old Harry Hernandez has been trapped inside the tug since the crash. Cold water and rough conditions forced salvage crews to call off the search.

Just before dawn Thursday, crews began the delicate task of hoisting the tugboat out of the murky waters using a massive crane to help pull the structure to the surface in one piece, CBS2's Janelle Burrell reported.

According to Westchester County Executive Rob Astorino, Hernandez's body was trapped in an area of the vessel that was badly damaged, making the recovery process even more complicated.

PHOTOS: Sunken Tugboat Raised From Hudson

"Today brings closure to them (Hernandez's family) in many ways," Astorino said. "And you look at the parallels -- today being Holy Thursday and the family in there is very religious -- and they found comfort in that, too."

Divers were also positioned in the water to help guide the salvage process, WCBS 880's Marla Diamond reported.

On March 12, the 90-foot tugboat named Specialist crashed into a stationary construction barge near the Tappan Zee Bridge, investigators said.

The boat was one of three tugs escorting a barge carrying a crane down the Hudson from Albany to Jersey City.

It's not clear what caused the tug to slam into the barge, but in the moments before, the Specialist began to drift dangerously close to the barge, investigators said.

"There were reports that radioed in, 'We are too close, we have to move left,'" Gov. Andrew Cuomo said at the time of the crash. "They didn't move in time."

The tug collided with the barge, plunging 40 feet below the surface.

Also killed were crew members Paul Amon, 63, and Timothy Conklin, 29.

The body of Amon, the tug's captain, was found soon after the crash. Conklin's body was recovered the next day by search divers.

The wreckage will be taken by barge to a storage facility and will be searched by investigators with hopes of determining what caused the crash.

"The structural integrity held up -- no additional damage or stress or strain caused by the raising of it. So we have a good crime scene, if you will, to investigate," a U.S. Coast Guard spokesperson said.

The investigation is ongoing.

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