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Coast Guard ending search Monday, Seacor rescue efforts to continue

Seacor Capsized 2.jpg
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Posted at 9:10 AM, Apr 14, 2021
and last updated 2021-04-21 23:23:56-04

A total of 19 crew members were on board the Seacor Power when it capsized eight miles south of Port Fourchon during severe weather on April 13. Six people were rescued following the incident. Six have been found dead and seven are still missing, as of Wednesday, April 21.

UPDATE for Wednesday, April 21, 2021

Volunteers continue to search the area where the Seacor Power capsized on April 13. Searches are now taking place by planes and boats, with the United Cajun Navy assisting and asking for volunteers.

UCN president Todd Terrell told KATC that divers have completely gone through the vessel and are searching the boat a second time. UCN is asking for volunteers with shrimp boats to assist in the search. Anyone who would like to assist can reach out through social media.

Acadiana residents and businesses are doing their part to help the families affected as well through various fundraisers.

  • Nutrition Krewe in Lafayette has partnered with the Cajun Navy and is donating 100% of its profits and gratuities through Tuesday, April 22, to help fund the UCN's search and rescue efforts.
  • A jambalaya benefit will be held on Friday, April 23 in Lafayette for the family of Ernest Williams of Arnaudville; all proceeds will go to Williams' family

UPDATE for Tuesday, April 20, 2021

Divers searching the Seacor Power wreckage recovered the body of a sixth crew member on Tuesday. He was identified as 31-year-old father of two Quinon Pitre.

UPDATE for Monday, April 19, 2021

The USCG search and rescue effort for eight men still missing in the gulf will end Monday at sunset, Coast Guard officials say. The Coast Guard, National Transportation Safety Board, and Seacor Marine gave an update Monday on the response efforts for the capsized Seacor Power.

"Our focus now will begin to shift," said Capt. Will E. Watson, sector commander sector New Orleans.

Watson said he'd just shared that decision with the families of those still missing. Seacor's efforts will continue. Officials said their contract divers will be in the water searching every minute the weather permits.

Read more here.

On Monday, April 19, a fifth crew member, recovered from the second level of the capsized lift boat on Sunday night, was identified as 36-year-old Lawrence Warren of Terrytown. For more on The rescued, the recovered, and the missing among crew of capsized Seacor Power, click here

UPDATE for Sunday, April 18, 2021

Family members say that the divers are back in the water today, but are moving carefully in order to preserve any air pockets that might be keeping the missing alive.

Here's a post from a family member about what's going on in their meetings with Coast Guard officials:

"Moving on to facts: Dive operations were suspended last night due to current and sea state. They have actively stated back up at 10 ish. Chaz’s room is on 3rd floor I was told so hold out hope for that. The weather conditions went down in a matter of second with seconds to act. The Port side is what is sticking up out the water and that side just hold tanks. So with that being said we know he is not in that part that is sticking out," she writes. "Chaz would hold out every ounce of hope if he were here with us and standing on this ground, so that is what we will do.! We are holding on tight. Next update will come tonight about 9:15ish..
Below is a few pics for you guys to be able to get a visual. The black line is the water line. Again that is where tanks are."

If you can't see the post, click here.

We've reached out to the Coast Goard for updates, as well, and have received no response.

UPDATE for Saturday, April 17, 2021

The two additional Seacor Power crew members recovered unresponsive during rescue efforts Friday have been identified.

The Lafourche Parish Coroner's Office confirm the two as 55-year-old James Wallingsford of Gilbert, Louisiana and Anthony Hartford, 53, of New Orleans.

The cause of death remains under investigation.

Rescue efforts continue.

UPDATE for Friday, April 16, 2021

Rescue crews are continuing to battle rough conditions to search for the remaining crew members of the Seacor Power liftboat that capsized Tuesday in the Gulf of Mexico.

Divers from Donjon Marine Company who were diving on the capsized Seacor Power recovered two additional unresponsive crew members on Friday.

On Friday, the Lafourche Parish Coroner's Office confirmed the death of a second crew member from the Seacor Power. The body was recovered Thursday in the water of the Gulf of Mexico and not inside the ship.

That person has now been identified as 69-year-old Ernest Williams of Arnaudville, Louisiana. KATC reached out to his family who confirmed the report of his death.

So far, two deaths have been confirmed, six others have been rescued and 11 are now still missing. There were 19 crew members in total.

Funeral arrangements for captain David Ledet, who was the first person to be identified are now set. They are set for Wedensday April 21, in Thibodaux, Louisiana.

Dive operations are scheduled to continue throughout Friday evening, weather permitting.

UPDATE for Thursday, April 15, 2021:

So far, federal investigators have now joined in the work to uncover information about the capsizing incident. The NTSB confirmed with KATC that they will be assisting the Coast Guard in their investigation.

The Coast Guard is still leading the investigation, they confirm. The incident has been declared a major marine casualty.

The Coast Guard says divers were able to conduct operations Thursday at the capsized vessel. Divers knocked on the hull of the vessel without hearing a response, the Coast Guard adds. Dive operations are secured for the day and are set to resume on Friday.

Search efforts will continue overnight into Friday with air and surface assets, the Coast Guard says.

Coast Guard says their air and surface assets continued to search overnight Thursday and throughout the day on Thursday. Coast Guard crews have searched for a combined 70 hours covering approximately 6,380 square miles, an area roughly the size of Hawaii. They believe all 12 missing crew members are still on board the capsized vessel.

Coast Guard boat crew members attempted to throw a hammer at the hull of the SeaCor Power to make contact with potential survivors inside the vessel.

#UPDATE Our U.S. Coast Guard rescue crews continue their search for 12 missing people from the capsized lift boat 8 miles south of #PortFourchon, #Louisiana. #Ready, #Relevant, #Responsive, #searchandrescue

Posted by U.S. Coast Guard Heartland on Thursday, April 15, 2021

Divers are on scene Thursday to conduct an assessment and begin operations in support of the ongoing search and rescue effort.

On Wednesday, updates from the Coast Guard stated that 12 men were still missing. Six had been rescued so far and one death was confirmed. That person's identity was released on Thursday by Lafourche Parish coroner as David Ledet.

Family members have confirmed to KATC that at least four Acadiana men were on board the boat that capsized in the Gulf yesterday.

Team coverage on the search in the Gulf:

Continuing rough seas are making the search and rescue process more difficult, authorities say. We have no official information at this time as to who was on the boat and who has been recovered.

But we have spoken with family members of men who were on the boat.

The fiance of Jay Guevara, of Lafayette, confirms to us that he was on the boat. Family does not know the status of Guevara's fate at this time.

The family of Gregory Walcott, 62, of Abbeville, also tell us he was on the boat. Family says that as of Wednesday they have not heard anything from Seacor or the Coast Guard on an update for Walcott. Here's his picture:

His niece, Crystle Randle, says, "We don't have any words. It's just...it's like a bomb just exploded without any notice. We're all just in a state of shock right now. We're just staying in good faith that he will be found alive." According to Walcott's sister, he has worked offshore for 20 years and this moment is one they never imagined.

Family members of Dylan Daspit of Iberia Parish confirm he was on the boat. They remain without knowledge of his wereabouts. His wife, Hannah Coleman Daspit, asks that “everyone pray for a miracle. He needs to come home to his family. We can’t live without him.”

Here's their picture:

The family of Quinon Pitre, 31, from the Lawtell area, tells us he also was on the boat when it capsized. They also tell us they have not been told of his status. Here's his photo:

We spoke with Misty Pitre, Quinon Pitre's sister, who said the waiting is, "Physically sickening. Not knowing anything, just waiting." She said she last spoke with her brother on Monday. Since the boat capsized, she said she and her family have tried making calls to area hospitals, but have received little information about who was brought in and who wasn't.

Additionally, a representative with Seacor Holdings tells KATC that two colleagues were on-board the power lift boat at the time.

"Our two men are unaccounted for at this time. We are deeply concerned over the situation and hoping for the best. We are monitoring the search and rescue operations, which are still underway at this time," a spokesperson said.

On Wednesday evening, Seacor released a statement on the capsizing saying they are working on recovery efforts and thanked those who are searching.

"We are deeply saddened by the news of the vessel capsizing and are working closely with the U.S. Coast Guard and local authorities to support all efforts in locating our valued team members and partners. We would like to thank the U.S. Coast Guard and Good Samaritan vessels for their immediate response as well as the brave individuals who have further supported our search and rescue efforts. Our hearts and prayers go out to everyone involved."

The Coast Guard says search operations are ongoing about 8 miles south of Port Fourchon where the Seacor Power, a 129-foot lift boat, capsized on April 13 during severe weather.

In an update on Wednesday, the Coast Guard Second Commander Will Watson says they received a distress call On Tuesday at 4:28 pm about the Seacor Power capsizing. The vessel had departed about 1:30 pm with a crew of 19 people. At the time, he says, the weather was challenging with 80 to 90 mph winds and 7 to 9 foot seas.

"Even with weather conditions, crews responded to the capsizing withing 30 minutes," he said.

Along with their own crews Watson says they have been getting calls from people in the maritime industry wishing to get involved.

"We are actively coordinating with those folks," he said.

During Wednesday's search for the dozen still unaccounted for, 8 to 10 foot seas were being seen out in the search area. Coast Guard said safety and accountability for their personnel is a top priority.

"We are giving it all we have," Watson said.

As of Wednesday, the vessel is still submerged and grounded. Watson says it has not moved from where it capsized or if it has, it has moved very little. He also explained that there is very little environmental impact seen at this time. They are working with the state and local governments on those measures.

Seacor is contacting families of those involved and will be working on reunification efforts for those who have been rescued.

There is an investigation into why the vessel was traveling during the rough weather conditions and if those conditions played a part in the boat's capsizing.

"We don't know to what degree that [the weather] contributed to the challenges," he said.

There were some weather reports and alerts at the time of Seacor Power's journey but this level of weather seen on Tuesday, he said, was not anticipated.

Those who work on the water are trained using the 1-10-1 Method - it's three steps of what you will face in cold water, the dangers of it, and what you should do to survive. According to experts, it will take one minute to get breathing under control, less than ten minutes to self-rescue, and one hour before falling unconscious from hypothermia.

"The life jacket is going to keep your surface and I can focus on my breathing. If I don't have a life jacket I will be thrashing about trying to keep my head up, breath, and do a lot at one time. If I have a life jacket on I can accomplish that," explained Terry Crownover, director at the Marine Survival Training Center.

Lafourche Parish President Archie Chaisson says they will continue to work with families of those that are still missing.

“The hope is that we can bring the other 12 home alive,” Lafourche Parish President Archie Chaisson told Nola.com by phone Wednesday morning as he traveled to Port Fourchon. Chaisson said that families of the crew members had begun to gather at Port Fourchon Tuesday night seeking any information they could.

Rescue crews involved in the search:

  • Coast Guard Cutter Glenn Harris
  • Coast Guard Cutter Amberjack
  • A Coast Guard Air Station New Orleans MH-65 Dolphin helicopter
  • Two Coast Guard Station Grand Isle 45-foot RB-M
  • HC-144 Ocean Sentry airplanes from Coast Guard Air Station Corpus Christi and Coast Guard Aviation Training Center Mobile
  • Four good Samaritan vessels

Governor John Bel Edwards issued a statement on the capsizing asking for prayers for those missing those working to rescue them.

"Please join First Lady Donna Edwards and me in praying for those who remain missing after yesterday’s capsizing off the coast of Grand Isle and for those who are working to rescue them," the post reads.

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U.S. Coast Guard Station Grand Isle posted photos of damage left behind on Tuesday by strong storms that swept through Louisiana.

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