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Boater missing following Thursday crash near Butte La Rose boat launch

butte la rose boat launch.PNG
Posted at 12:48 PM, Apr 30, 2021
and last updated 2021-05-01 00:14:07-04

BUTTE LA ROSE, La. — The Louisiana Department of Wildlife and Fisheries says that the search for a missing boater are paused Friday night after a Thursday afternoon crash near the Butte La Rose Visitor Center Boat Launch.

Agents say that at around 2:00 p.m. on April 29 there was vessel on vessel collision in the Little Atchafalaya River about two miles south of boat launch.

A 16 foot vessel had two people in it and both were ejected from the vessel into the water at the time of impact.

One of the men was reportedly able to swim back to the vessel. LDWF says that the other man did not resurface and is still missing.

Neither of the men were wearing a personal flotation device, according to agents.

Moments after the collision, Chester Bernard says he was fishing with his son and nephew, when they saw an ice chest floating on the water and the two boats.

"We saw the ice chest floating and he told us, 'I'm not the one who was driving the boat, but my friend was driving the boat and he didn't surface.'"

That friend, Harold Schoeffler believes, is his brother.

"He just closed his office and formally retired. He's an architect," Schoeffler said. "We hunted alligators together. We canoed from Lafayette to the Intracoastal City one night. A lot of great memories growing up in the outdoors together."

The second vessel involved in the collision only had the operator on board. The operator was not ejected but was knocked unconscious and his vessel began taking on water and sinking.

LDWF says that a good Samaritan was able to get the operator off of the vessel before it sank. That person was airlifted to Lafayette General to be treated for his injuries. His status is unknown at this time

Search crews from the LDWF Enforcement Division, Iberia Parish Sheriff’s Office and St. Martin Parish Sheriff’s Office immediately responded to the scene.

With high currents in the river, Schoeffler said the search could take longer.

"This is a swift river. It's not a river where they can do dragging operations. It's a question of timing, it's not like the Mississippi. Time will bring the body up and he'll be found."

Agents say that the search lasted until late Thursday night and continued until around 7:30 Friday evening. It will continue throughout the weekend.

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