At 1:30 am Sunday morning, the St. Mary Parish Sheriff’s Office received a call from a concerned relative regarding an overdue vessel with eight occupants on board. The family had not returned from a fishing trip to the Pelligrin’s Cut area. One of the occupants of the vessel was pregnant and five were children whose ages ranged from eight to fourteen years old. A detective with the Marine Division responded and searched with family members as well as the United States Coast Guard and Louisiana Department of Wildlife and Fisheries Enforcement Division. The search continued through the night and into the next morning. The victims were located near Deer Island Bayou. All were in good health. The group was escorted to the Berwick Boat Landing around 10:00 am.
In addition to working regularly scheduled hours, Marine Division detectives work an on-call rotation. The Marine Division receives more after hour callouts than any other division within the St. Mary Parish Sheriff's Office. This year to date, the Marine Division has responded to 31 search and rescue calls. With the summer season comes an increase in activity on the waterways of St. Mary Parish. Sheriff Mark Hebert urges the public to practice safe boating operations. “To help ensure a safe return home, take the time to prepare before launch and practice proper boating procedures while on the water.” This summer season don't take safety on the water for granted. Even the most experienced boaters, those who have lived and worked on the water all their lives, are not immune to mishaps. Boating conditions can change quickly. Don't be caught unprepared. Complete a boating checklist before leaving the landing.
- Don't just bring personal flotation devices, wear them. It's the law and it could save your life. For more information on what type of PFD is required for your personal watercraft as well as other state law requirements for boating, such as registration, visit the Louisiana Wildlife and Fisheries website at http://www.wlf.louisiana.gov/boating
- Know the area in which you are boating and bring a map or GPS.
- Carry enough gas to get there and back.
- Carry signaling devices, such as flares or an air horn, to use in case of distress. Whistles can also be attached to PFD’s.
- Be aware of weather conditions including tidal activity, wind, and what time sunset occurs.
- Bring a cell phone. While the signal may not be strong enough for a phone call often times text messages will go through.
- Let someone know where you're going, when you're going, and when you will return. Don't change the plan without letting that someone know.
- Always have extra food, water, and supplies on hand.
Also, Sheriff Hebert says, “It is a common misconception that a person must be missing for 24 or 48 hours before law enforcement will conduct a search. The reality is that there is no waiting period. If you suspect that a person is missing, report it.”
St. Mary Parish Sheriff’s Office
Public Information Officer
985-384-1622 Ext. 714