Search is on for lost ferry bell
Bell is key ingredient in plans for Destrehan ferry disaster monument
After several meetings, it looks like St. Charles Parish may finally get a monument to commemorate those that lost their lives in the Luling/Destrehan Ferry Disaster. However, committee members are searching for one lost piece of the puzzle that would make the monument really stand out - the George Prince ferry bell.
“After the disaster, Governor Edwin Edwards commissioned the ferry to be destroyed,” filmmaker Royd Anderson, who wrote and directed a documentary on the disaster, said. “I heard the ferry bell was at the Cabildo, but when I contacted the museum director, he said they did not have the bell.”
Anderson said that there’s a possibility that someone in the parish may actually have the bell.
“Who knows?” Anderson said. “It could be in someone’s garage or attic.”
The search for the bell has put Anderson in contact with Fred Hurt, who was the diver that located the exact spot where the accident occurred on the river. Hurt, who now lives in North Dakota, told Anderson that the Avondale Shipyard did the salvage work on the wrecked ferry. Anderson hopes that information might bring him one step closer to finding the bell.
That is, if someone inside the parish doesn’t already have it.
Other than that, Anderson said that the meetings have gone well.
“Family members of the victims who attend have a lot of input in all aspects of the project,” he said. “Much credit should be given to the St. Charles Parish Council and V.J. St. Pierre for being pro-active in getting a monument here.”
Anderson is also filming the meetings for both historical purposes and to add a segment to his 2006 documentary on the ferry accident.
“The film leaves most viewers angered and bewildered on why there is no monument in St. Charles Parish,” Anderson said. “Here today, things have changed for the better, and I’m fortunate to be in the position to record and be a part of history in the making.”
A draft sketching of the monument was created by Councilman Paul Hogan and the monument will be erected at the East Bank Bridge Park in Destrehan. There will be stations around the monument and Anderson has written the story of the accident to be placed at the stations.
The disaster took place 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.
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