OAKLAND -- The Port of Oakland has temporarily ceased operations after the death of a longshoreman who drove his truck into the bay near TraPac Terminal on Friday afternoon, a port spokesman said.
The truck was reported in the water at 1:36 p.m., and port divers pulled the body from the vehicle, which was stuck in the mud at least 50 feet below the surface, at 2:40 p.m., police said. The man, who was said to be 79 or 80 years old, was pronounced dead at the scene. His name was not released.
Authorities said he accidentally drove into the water, but what happened in the minutes before remains under investigation.
Port workers said he had worked at the port for 47 years. He was working as a clerk Friday afternoon, helping direct the placement of containers when the truck went into the water, said representatives from the International Longshore and Warehouse Union.
"He (was) an icon in our organization, (and) we are saddened over this death," said Michael Villegiante, president of ILWU Local 10. "He was a well-loved individual; everybody respected him. He was like a dad to all of us."
All vessel and terminal operations have ceased while Oakland police investigate.
"We anticipate a 24-hour shutdown of the entire port," said spokesman Robert Bernardo on Friday.
Because the truck was stuck in the mud on its roof, a crane was used to dislodge it and bring it up from the water, police said.
"It's something we don't expect to happen. We all expect to go home safely every day," said Ed Henderson, a business agent with ILWU Local 10, who called the death "a devastating blow to the ILWU up and down the coast."
How the man's truck went into the water remains under investigation by Oakland police traffic investigators. Asked if the truck was accidentally pushed into the water by a hostler moving a container, Bernardo said he could not comment. Police also declined to comment.
Port of Oakland divers were the first in the water near Berth 30 on 7th Street. Also on the call were Alameda County Sheriff's Office divers, Oakland police and firefighters, a San Francisco fire boat and the U.S. Coast Guard, said Oakland police spokeswoman Officer Johnna Watson.