Tragic Incident on Toledo Bend Lake: Two Lives Lost After Fishing Barge Capsizes

Toldedo tragedy

On a seemingly ordinary day at Toledo Bend Lake, a distress call was received just before noon, reporting a capsized fishing barge in the Pirate’s Cove area.

The serene waters of the lake turned into a scene of chaos and tragedy as the incident unfolded. Initial reports indicated that six individuals were on board the barge when it capsized.

Out of the six individuals, four managed to swim to safety, showcasing remarkable resilience and presence of mind in the face of danger. However, the incident took a tragic turn as two individuals, Jerilyn Hebert, 57, and Macy Richard, 27, drowned. Jerilyn Hebert’s body was later located and retrieved around 4:30 p.m. during the rescue operation, marking a somber end to the day.

The group of five customers and one guide had set off on the barge for a fishing trip on the lake.

The Sabine Parish Sheriff’s Office (SPSO) commended the efforts of the North Sabine Fire District and Natchitoches Parish Sheriff’s Deputies for their swift and efficient assistance in the search and rescue operation. Their dedication and teamwork were instrumental in ensuring the safety of the survivors and recovering the victims.

Ongoing Investigation

The Louisiana Department of Wildlife and Fisheries (LDWF) has launched an investigation into the incident.

According to the survivors, the wind and waves quickly picked up around 11:50 a.m., and a wave hit the pontoon boat, causing it to capsize and sending all six people into the water. As the investigation progresses, more details are expected to emerge, shedding light on the circumstances that led to the capsizing of the fishing barge.

This tragic incident serves as a stark reminder of the importance of adhering to safety measures while engaging in outdoor activities, especially on water bodies. Ensuring that all individuals on board are equipped with life jackets and are aware of emergency procedures can make a significant difference in such situations.

Community Response

The local community has been deeply affected by the incident. Expressions of condolences and support have poured in for the families of the victims. The incident has also sparked discussions on enhancing safety protocols and awareness among those who frequent the lake for recreational activities.

As the investigation continues, the focus remains on understanding the factors that contributed to this tragic event and preventing similar incidents in the future. The loss of two lives is a poignant reminder of the unpredictable nature of outdoor activities and the need for vigilance and preparedness.

This is a developing story, and updates will be provided as more information becomes available. The thoughts and prayers of the community are with the families of the victims during this difficult time.

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Rick Wallace is a passionate angler and fly fisher whose work has appeared in fishing publications including FlyLife. He's appeared in fishing movies, founded a successful fishing site and spends every spare moment on the water. He's into kayak fishing, ultralight lure fishing and pretty much any other kind of fishing out there.
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