Mar 24, 2014 11:39 AM by Melissa Canone
The family reported missing and safely found later were forced to evacuate their boat after the motor caught fire.
At 6:22 pm, the St. Mary Parish Sheriff's Office Marine Division was activated after receiving a report that a family of four from Berwick did not return from a boating trip. Peter and Jennifer Orlando along with their son and daughter, ages 12 and 15, left from the Berwick Boat Landing at around 9:00 a.m. Saturday morning bound for the Halters Island area. The family did not return to the landing in Berwick as expected. All of the family's mobile phones were sending calls to voicemail.
The Sheriff's Office was contacted Sunday evening. Deputies with the St. Mary Parish Sheriff's Office Marine Division along with the Terrebonne Parish Sheriff's Office, Louisiana Department of Wildlife and Fisheries, and United States Coast Guard searched for the missing boaters.
Sunday night, Lieutenant Ross Mire of the St. Mary Parish Sheriff's Office Marine Division and Major Gary Driskell spotted the family's boat in Pellegrin Cut across Fourleague Bay from Halters Island in Terrebonne Parish. The deputies located all four members of the family safe inside a small houseboat at approximately 9:55 pm. All were in good health and were transported back to the Berwick Boat Landing where other family members were awaiting their arrival.
Later, deputies would discover on Saturday, Peter Orlando's boat motor failed and caught fire. Using a fire extinguisher, Orlando put out the flames and used his trolling motor to reach land. The family then took refuge in a small houseboat anchored nearby.
According to SMPSO Spokesperson Traci Landry, Orlando is commended for using available resources to get his family to safety until a rescue crew arrived.