Two-week Seacor Power hearing begins with emotional survivor testimony
NEW ORLEANS (WVUE) - A two-week public hearing began Monday with five hours of emotional testimony related to the fatal Seacor Power lift boat disaster.
The boat capsized and sank on April 13 just off the coast of Port Fourchon.
Six people were rescued, six bodies were recovered, and another seven are still missing and presumed dead.
Ted Duthu, captain of another lift boat named Rockfish, says he was able to get the legs of his boat down in time, but the storm came up in a hurry and produced waves estimated over 20 feet tall.
Captain Duthu put out a Mayday call after the storm subsided and he noticed the Seacor Power had capsized.
Dwayne Lewis, a representative of Talos Energy, was onboard the Seacor Power when it went under. He said the captain ordered the boat to leave the dock when he saw lightning in the distance.
Lewis says he went on board and took a nap, only to be awakened during the storm as the boat started to roll. He says he grabbed his lifejacket and was able to escape after he and another man used a fire extinguisher to break a window.
“The water rushed out and it sat me down and I was floating away,” Lewis said. “I grabbed the rope and they were yelling at me and said I didn’t ask for this.”
Several members of the victim’s families are attending the hearing.
Investigators with the NTSB and US Coast Guard questioned witnesses who were able to survive the horrible weather conditions that day. Their findings may be forwarded to other agencies, including the Department of Justice, for enforcement action if necessary.
Testimony continues Tuesday with Brian Myers, another survivor.
At around 4:30 p.m. on April 13, the first distress call from the Seacor power lift boat was the beginning of what’s been referred to as one of the worst maritime tragedies in recent history.
Information was slow to come out, and families endured the agonizing wait, as rescue operations tried to account for the 19 men on board when the Seacor capsized.
Families held out hope for as long as they could, even searching the gulf for days.
“I want my son to come home. I want that miracle,” said Darra Morales.
“I have a lot for my two sons and I want them to know I’ll do everything I can to get them home,” said Scott Daspit.
“This is an opportunity for the coast guard to ask questions and collect evidence to find out what happened and prevent it from happening in the future,” said Hugh “Skip” Lambert.
Attorney, Hugh “Skip” Lambert expects it to be an emotional hearing.
“It’s going to be gut-wrenching for the families certainly for the survivors reliving and for the families who lost family members just a horrible reality of how this went,” said Lambert.
As this is an informational hearing, not a criminal one, Lambert, who’s representing the family of captain David Ledet who died in the incident says this is a hearing of great importance for the maritime industry.
“It’s not so much about finding fault as trying to prevent things from happening in the future,” said Lambert.
In the eyes of these family members, Lambert says safety should come first.
“I’m sure all the families and even those who haven’t recovered their loved ones will be glued to this hearing to determine what happened and why did it happen. It didn’t have to happen, it’s not necessary, it should not have happened. The vessel should never have left Port Fourchon,” said Lambert.
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