Survivor of Capsized Louisiana Lift Boat Seacor Power Detail Escape
A man who survived the capsizing of a boat lift off the coast of Louisiana told a Coast Guard hearing Monday that he had to smash a window with a fire extinguisher to escape the ship and that he had prayed to God as he drifted through the storm. rough sea for more than three hours.
“I lay down on the blanket, dozed off and the boat rolled,” Mr. Lewis said. “When I felt it roll, I jumped up and grabbed my life jacket.”
As Mr Lewis put on his life jacket, the television and shelves in his bedroom fell off the wall, he said.
“I looked out the window and I was able to see the bridge, which I shouldn’t have seen the bridge,” Mr. Lewis said. “But I saw the bridge – it was on the side.”
As he tried to escape, Mr Lewis said, he recalled his safety orientation, where he learned that in an emergency, a window would be the exit door.
“I pushed on that window as hard as I could,” Mr. Lewis said, “and it would never budge.” Mr Lewis said he then used a steel-toed boot to try to open the window and “nothing happened”. He finally managed to smash the glass using a fire extinguisher.
As soon as he broke the glass, Mr Lewis said, he was sucked into the ocean and started to fly away. He said he tried to grab a rope from the boat and get the attention of another nearby boat to no avail.
“I just turned into a ball,” Mr. Lewis said. “You get beaten up, and then you just beg God to calm the seas, please calm the seas. Then you talk to your deceased mom and tell her you’re not ready to see her.
After drifting for three to four hours in 10 to 12 foot seas, with heavy rain and lightning, Mr. Lewis was rescued by the crew of another vessel. Five other crew members were found within hours of the capsizing.
In the following days, the Coast Guard searched over 9,268 square nautical miles for more than 175 hours in hopes of finding more survivors.
Ted Duthu, who had ordered an elevator boat called the Rockfish, also testified at Monday’s hearing.
The Seacor Power was visible from the Rockfish that day, and there was little sign of bad weather before it capsized, Duthu said. Before the Seacor Power capsized it had started to rain, he said.
“That’s when all hell broke loose,” Duthu said, adding the winds had reached 95 miles per hour, which is as strong as a Category 1 hurricane. .
Before the rain started, Mr Duthu said, he lowered the redfish’s legs to the bottom of the sea and lifted the vessel up, a decision that likely saved him and his crew.
“Fifteen minutes later, the Rockfish would have been lying on its side next to the Seacor Power,” said Mr. Duthu.
Another survivor is expected to testify at the hearing in Houma, Louisiana. Some time after the hearing, the Coast Guard is expected to share a report on the capsizing of the Seacor Power.
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