The search continues for the missing crew from Seacor Power, a 129-ft liftboat that capsized in stormy weather around 4:30 pm on Tuesday, eight miles south of Port Fourchon on the Louisiana shore of the Gulf of Mexico.
Special marine warnings from the National Weather Service were issued earlier Tuesday to notify of severe weather that would hit the New Orleans area. Captain Will Watson, a commander with the Coast Guard in New Orleans, said at a press conference on Wednesday, however, that “this level of weather was not necessarily anticipated,” as he described the 80-90 MPH winds that would have slammed the boat.
After the liftboat activated its emergency position-indicating radio beacon, the Coast Guard issued an urgent marine information broadcast calling nearby boats to respond. Within about 30 minutes, two Coast Guard rescue ships and several “good Samaritan” boats were on scene and had saved six people from the rough water. A total of 19 people were onboard when the boat toppled.
On Wednesday, one missing crew member, 63-year-old captain David Ledet, was found dead. The search operation continued, with numerous vessels and a surveillance aircraft, but weather conditions made the choppy water a challenge.
Asked if some of the crew might be trapped in an air pocket in the vessel, Coast Guard Public Information Officer Shelley Turner said it was a possibility. “We don’t know for certain right now but that is something we’re looking into as the investigation unfolds,” she said.
On Thursday, a team of three private rescue divers was ready to continue the search. Bad weather and rough seas appear to have prevented dive attempts. Once they’re able to get in the water, the divers will search the crew quarters, if possible, according to WDSU News, and try to extract survivors or bodies of the dead.
Updated information indicates there may be at least two people alive on the boat. On Tuesday, five people were seen on the hull of the boat, according to the Coast Guard. Two of those people jumped into the water and were rescued. A third person is believed to have fallen off and has not been found. The remaining two people were told to find shelter; they may still be safely onboard the vessel.