Monument still sought for Luling Ferry Disaster victims


January 28, 2009 at 9:05 am  | Mobile Reader | Pring this storyPrint 

Dolores Pritchett and her son Tommy want a monument in place in St. Charles Parish to remember those who perished in the Luling Ferry Disaster. Dolores’ son and Tommy’s brother, 16-year-old Kevin, was killed in the disaster.
Ann Taylor
Dolores Pritchett and her son Tommy want a monument in place in St. Charles Parish to remember those who perished in the Luling Ferry Disaster. Dolores’ son and Tommy’s brother, 16-year-old Kevin, was killed in the disaster.
Filmmaker Royd Anderson is on a crusade to get a memorial in St. Charles Parish where the worst ferry accident in U.S. history took place.

Anderson wrote and directed the documentary “The Luling Ferry Disaster,” which chronicled the horrific event that occurred when the George Prince ferry collided with a tanker in 1976. Seventy-eight people perished in the crash, and most of the family members of the victims still reside in St. Charles Parish.

“In doing research on the accident, I discovered that there was no marker in St. Charles Parish in memoriam of the victims,” Anderson said. “Some of my research was done while vacationing in Alaska during the summer of 2005, and in Homer Spit, my family camped on the beach very close to the Seafarer's Memorial, which is a remembrance to those lost at sea.

“Staring at the memorial, I envisioned and dreamed of one in St. Charles Parish for the Luling Ferry Disaster victims. I'm still dreaming today.”

Anderson said that the only attempt ever made to get a memorial in St.Charles Parish was when Attorney Daniel E. Becnel Jr. tried to get one erected in front of the courthouse in 1978.

“But they refused, claiming it would be too painful of a reminder,” Anderson said. “It was reported in newspapers at the time that several St. Charles Parish officials said the monument site was changed to Edgard in St. John the Baptist Parish because the old St. Charles Police Jury didn't want to give Becnel an advantage in his race against District Attorney Harry Morel that year.  It seems that, once more, politics in Louisiana played a more important role than sound reasoning.”

As of now, there is no specific design in mind for the memorial, but Anderson would like the names of all those who died to be there. He also believes that the memorial should be located in Destrehan, at or near the remains of the ferry landing.

The reminder is important to Anderson because he feels like younger residents of the parish don't know enough about the tragic event.

“I taught at Hahnville High School from 2006 to 2008 and I was very surprised in learning most of my students knew nothing about the George Prince ferry disaster,” he said. “Younger generations aren't being educated or informed about this historic tragedy.”

The memorial would also serve as a cherished reminder of the lives that were lost that day.

“Most of the family members of the victims reside in St. Charles Parish and would like their loved ones to be remembered at the location where the tragedy occurred,” Anderson said. “I often think of the victims' families I was so fortunate to befriend, in particular Kenneth and Iris Songy and Dolores and Tommy Pritchett. I want them to see the day when there is a monument here in St. Charles Parish, and I'll continue to dream for one with them.”




View other articles written By Jonathan Menard

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