Search and rescue authorities found two missing boaters alive on Grand Lake this morning, Oct. 27 after a 12 hour search.
Tyler Smith, 24, of Iota, and Gus Atkinson, 28, of Gueydan, were found by search and rescue personnel at 9 a.m. this morning at Cypress Island in the northern section of Grand Lake.
Louisiana Department of Wildlife and Fisheries (LDWF) Enforcement Division agents were notified at 9 p.m. on Oct. 26 about two overdue boaters in the Grand Lake and Lake Arthur areas. LDWF agents immediately coordinated a search effort throughout the night with the U.S. Coast Guard, Cameron Parish Sheriff’s Office and the Vermilion Parish Sheriff’s Office.
Smith and Atkinson launched their 14 foot aluminum flat bottom boat from the Hwy. 14 boat launch on Lake Arthur. By 1:30 p.m. they were fishing at the “Catfish Locks” on Grand Lake. At 5 p.m. family members notified the two fishermen of a storm kicking up in the area.
The men started to make their way back to the Hwy. 14 launch, but ran into heavy winds and waves that swamped their boat. They were able to walk their boat to the shore area and bail out the water and get back underway. However, shortly thereafter the 25 horsepower motor quit working and they were unable to get it started again. The men lost communications and decided to drag the boat to the shore area at Cypress Island and wait until help arrived. Family members notified authorities at 9 p.m. who searched until they found them this morning at 9 a.m.
“These men did a lot of right things to survive this ordeal. The most important thing they did was that they had a float plan by notifying family beforehand where they would be fishing and the family knew about what time they should be back,” said Capt. Robert Buatt, who coordinated the search. “This float plan allowed the family to make a decision early on that they were missing and needed help. The men also were able to get the boat to an area that was less turbulent and safe once they knew they were not going to make it back to the launch.”
LDWF will be the lead investigative agency for this boating incident.
Search and rescue crews are currently searching for a missing boater on the Ouachita River in Ouachita Parish.
Louisiana Department of Wildlife and Fisheries Enforcement Division agents and Ouachita Parish Sheriff’s Office deputies are searching for Charles Trascher, 64, of Monroe, who was reported missing shortly after 6 p.m. on Sept. 20.
According to family, Trascher never returned home yesterday from a fishing trip. Authorities recovered Trascher’s 17-foot aluminum vessel in the Ouachita River near West Monroe last night, Sept. 20, and searched throughout the night.
LDWF will have two sonar units on scene today to assist in the search. LDWF will be the lead investigative agency for this boating incident.
The Louisiana Department of Wildlife and Fisheries (LDWF) Enforcement Division received the 2012 Compass Award at the National Association of Safe Boating Law Administrators (NASBLA) annual conference from Sept. 8 to 12 in Mobile, Ala.
LDWF received the award for becoming the first agency in the United States to earn national accreditation in the Boat Operations and Training (BOAT) program administered by NASBLA and for continuing to set an example in leadership for its boating safety and waterway enforcement program.
NASBLA is a national nonprofit organization that works to develop public policy for recreational boating safety. NASBLA represents the recreational boating authorities of all 50 states and the U.S. territories.
According to NASBLA.org, the Compass Award is a means of recognizing a NASBLA member agency for significant measures and leadership it has taken to develop a model of performance in a specific area. Receipt of this award identifies an agency whose program, effort, or initiative has truly enhanced the nation’s safety and security and one that has become a model for all to follow.
“Winning this award is a great achievement for our agency and acknowledges all of the hard work we put in to making Louisiana’s waterways safer for everyone to enjoy,” said Lt. Col. Jeff Mayne, Louisiana’s State Boating Law Administrator. “We feel that this new training program will allow our agency to train with others more efficiently, which will provide a great public safety services on our states waterways.”
The BOAT program establishes a national standard for the training and qualification of maritime law enforcement and rescue personnel. Adoption and implementation of the BOAT program provides a true national standard for the purpose of maritime interoperability at the federal, state and local levels. Standardization ensures maritime agencies can interact together and will bolster their ability to act as force multipliers nationwide.
The LDWF Enforcement Division is the first agency to implement the BOAT standard in all aspects of operations and training including cadet training at the academy level and training of partners throughout the state across all jurisdictions. The BOAT program will enhance LDWF's training plans in the areas of basic crewmember, boat operator for search and rescue and tactical operations.
The LDWF Enforcement Division is an active participant in Louisiana's Homeland Security Plan and represents the state in waterborne emergencies. Through the Governor's Office of Homeland Security and Emergency Preparedness, LDWF is the lead agency for search and rescue operations and maritime security.
As members of the Governor's Homeland Security Advisory Council, the Area Maritime Security Executive Steering Committee and all major port security committees within the state, LDWF Law Enforcement Division agents frequently respond to requests to deploy LDWF marine resources for security concerns.
The LDWF Enforcement Division's specialized training and equipment and its ability to operate throughout the state's vast maze of waterways and wild areas has complemented Louisiana's ability to respond to emergencies on the water.
Search and Rescue officials recovered the body of a Noble man from Toledo Bend Sabine Parish on Aug. 16.
Search crews from the Louisiana Department of Wildlife and Fisheries, Natchitoches Parish Sheriff’s Office and the Sabine Parish Sheriff’s Office recovered the body of Brandon Jeane, 27, around 9:45 p.m.
Officials were notified about a fisherman who fell overboard in Toledo Bend around 6:45 p.m. on Aug. 16. Jeane was fishing with his Uncle in a 16 foot boat when he fell overboard without a personal flotation device. According to the Uncle, Jeane never resurfaced and he called for help.
Jeane’s body was turned over to the Sabine Parish Coroner’s Office to determine a cause of death. LDWF will be the lead investigative agency for this boating crash incident.
Louisiana Department of Wildlife and Fisheries Enforcement Division (LDWF) agents arrested three Walker men in July on charges that stemmed from an operating or driving a vessel while intoxicated (DWI) allegation.
Agents arrested Kyle Corkern, 26, of Walker, for an alleged DWI on the Amite River Diversion Canal on July 8. Arresting agents parked their vessel at the Hill Top Inn Marina while they transported Corkern to the French Settlement Police Department for an intoxilyzer test.
As other agents working on the Diversion Canal arrived at the marina, they observed a male subject jump out and run from the unattended LDWF patrol vessel tied to the pier. Agents made contact with the two male subjects at the scene, but were unable to ascertain what had taken place and the subjects were released.
Agents later discovered that the unattended LDWF vessel had the plug removed allowing it to begin to fill with water. This particular vessel had a bilge pump that was able to keep up and keep the vessel afloat.
After a week long investigation, agents arrested Brian B. Heyse, 25, and Neal D. Corkern, 23, on July 17 for allegedly tampering with an LDWF patrol vessel. Both subjects were passengers in Kyle Corkern’s vessel prior to his arrest.
Agents charged Heyse and Neal Corkern with simple burglary, attempted criminal damage to property, criminal mischief and criminal trespass. Heyse was additionally cited for intentional littering after breaking a bottle in the marina parking lot.
Driving a vessel while intoxicated carries a fine between $300 and $1,000 and up to six months in jail with the chance of losing driving and boating privileges.
Simple burglary brings up to a $2,000 fine and up to 12 years in jail. Criminal damage to property carries up to a $10,000 fine and up to 15 years in jail. Criminal trespassing brings a fine between $100 and $500 and up to 30 days in jail. Criminal mischief carries up to a $500 fine and up to six months in jail. Intentional littering carries a $250 fine and eight hours of community service in a litter abatement work program.
Agents participating in the investigation and arrests were Senior Agent Hal Bridges, Sgt. Randy Lanoux, Lt. Will Roberts, Sgt. Guy Adams and Senior Agent Terry Hicks.
Search and rescue crews have recovered the body of a Westlake man at 6:30 a.m. today, July 22 near the vicinity where authorities found the body of his fishing partner and capsized vessel on the west bank of Lake Charles in Calcasieu Parish.
Louisiana Department of Wildlife and Fisheries (LDWF) agents along with the Calcasieu Parish Sheriff’s Office and the U.S. Coast Guard responded to a report of two missing boaters on Lake Charles on July 20 after 10 p.m. According to family members, William R. Druilhet Jr., 22, of Lake Charles, and Christopher Rollins, 25, of Westlake, were out fishing and last made contact shortly before 10 p.m.
Search and rescue crews searched throughout the night and found their 16 foot vessel capsized on the west bank of Lake Charles at 4:30 a.m. on July 21. Authorities then found the body of Druilhet at 4:50 a.m. on July 21 near the boat and Rollins at 6:30 a.m. on July 22 also near the boat.
Authorities found Druilhet wearing a personal flotation device and Rollins without a personal flotation device. Both bodies of Druilhet and Rollins were turned over to the Calcasieu Parish Sheriff’s Office to determine a cause of death.
LDWF has recovered the vessel and will be the lead investigative agency for this boating crash incident.
The deceased body of a missing boater was found on Lake Maurepas on Monday, June 25 around 8 p.m.
A passing boater found the body of Daniel Mitchell, 51, of Springfield, about 2 miles south on Lake Maurepas in Tangipahoa Parish from where his unmanned vessel was found. The boater notified officials who then recovered Mitchell’s body.
Search crews from the Louisiana Department of Wildlife and Fisheries (LDWF) Enforcement Division, Livingston Parish Sheriff’s Office, Tangipahoa Parish Sheriff’s Office, U.S. Coast Guard and the Killian Dive Team have been searching for Mitchell since Saturday, June 23 around 5:30 p.m.
Officials responded to a report of an unmanned 18-foot lake skiff circling near the mouth of the Tickfaw River on Lake Maurepas. After boarding the circling vessel, LDWF agents were able to match the boater’s registration to Mitchell. A search of the area was immediately started.
Mitchell’s body was transferred to the Tangipahoa Parish Coroner’s Office. Mitchell was not wearing a personal flotation device. It is unknown at this time how Mitchell was ejected from the vessel.
In support of Operation Dry Water, the Louisiana Department of Wildlife and Fisheries (LDWF) arrested five boaters statewide for driving or operating a vessel while intoxicated (DWI) from Friday, June 22 to Sunday, June 24.
LDWF agents issued DWIs to Joshua Fortenberry, 23, of Watson, Ark., on Moon Lake in Ouachita Parish, on June 23; Thurman Hitchcock, 65, of West Monroe, on the Ouachita River in Quachita Parish on June 24; Kayward Hebert, 61, of Kaplan, on Henderson Bay in St. Martin Parish on June 23; Nelson Navarre, 54, of Vinton, on the Sabine River in Calcasiue River on June 23; and James Walker Jr., 37, of Baton Rouge, on the Diversion Canal in Livingston Parish on June 24.
"We take DWI enforcement on the water very serious since the leading cause of boating fatalities is alcohol," said Lt. Col. Jeff Mayne, the state's boating law administrator. "We want everybody on the water to have a good time, but to keep in mind that they need a designated driver just like on land."
Alcohol can impair a boater’s judgment, balance, vision and reaction time. It can increase fatigue and susceptibility to the effects of cold-water immersion. Sun, wind, noise, vibration and motion intensify the side effects of alcohol, drugs and some prescription medications.
Louisiana had 36 fatalities from boating crash incidents in 2011 with five of those listing alcohol as a primary cause. Nationwide, statistics from 2011 reveal that 16 percent of all boat incident fatalities were a direct result of alcohol or drug use.
LDWF agents issued 108 DWI citations to boat operators in 2011 with 10 of those occurring over the Operation Dry Water weekend.
In Louisiana, a DWI on the water carries the same penalties and fines as on the road and includes jail time, fines and loss of driving and boating operator privileges.
Anyone cited for a DWI on the water or on the road will lose his or her driver's license and boating privileges for the specified time ordered by the judge in the case. Also, each offense of operating a vehicle or vessel while intoxicated counts toward the total number of DWI crimes whether they happened on the water or road.
In Louisiana a DWI can be issued to anyone operating a moving vessel or vehicle with a blood alcohol concentration of .08 or higher. First offense DWI carries a $300 to $1,000 fine and up to six months in jail. Second offense DWI brings a $750 to $1,000 fine and between 30 days and six months in jail. Third offense DWI carries a $5,000 fine and between one and five years in jail.
Operation Dry Water was started in 2009 and is a joint program involving the LDWF/LED, the National Association of State Boating Law Administrators (NASBLA) and the U.S. Coast Guard. More information is available at www.operationdrywater.org.
Agents making the DWI arrests this weekend were Senior Scott Bullitt, Sgt. Duane Taylor, Senior Agent Bear Fletcher, Senior Agent Jones, Senior Agent Bourdreaux, Senior Agent Beau Robertson, Sgt. Aaron Herpin and Sgt. Randy Lanoux.