PORT FOUCHON, La. (KLFY) — On April 13, 2021, news broke when 19 crew members were lost at sea after a Seacor Power lift boat capsized in the Gulf of Mexico.
The crew members that were found waited in the water for hours, days. Others were never found. Six men were rescued the day of the incident. Six died, and seven more are presumed dead.
During the search communities from across the state came together, holding on to hope that the men would return to their families.
One year later, those same families are forced to remember the tragedy that took their loved ones too soon. Shelia Wallingsford, wife of James Wallingsford, said she lost her best friend.
“You can ask all of my friends,” said Sheila Wallingsford. “We never went anywhere without each other. We were just that couple.”
James Wallingsford was one of the six crew members who died. He was reportedly left behind alive on the first night the Seacor Power lift boat capsized. His attorneys believed he survived the initial crash and went into an air pocket inside the ship to survive. Three days later, his body was found in the lift boat’s engine room.
“My husband was the type of person who would never leave anyone behind,” said Sheila Wallingsford. “He would’ve been the last person on that boat. I promise you. He did save a couple of people from what we have learned. He was definitely a hero and always has been.”
Sheila Wallingsford said the tragedy has brought her family closer. They’ve received support from people all over the country. In the days leading up to the anniversary, people in her community have honored her husband for who he was and how much he meant to his community.
News 10 spoke to the family member of another crew member, Quinon Pitre. The Lawtell man was 30 at the time of the incident. His body was found a week after the deadly disaster. His sister, Misty Pitre, says the days leading up to the anniversary have been hard. All they have are memories of the good times they spent with him.
She says the family is “hanging in there. We are just taking it one day at a time because they are constant reminders of him not being here you know.”
She says the family misses his personality most. Not one day goes by without thinking about her brother.
Days are the hardest when she picks up the phone to call him and realizes he won’t answer the phone.
The Wallingsford family says they will have a memorial on the day James Wallingsford’s body was found, which is April 16. Misty Pitre says their family will wait until Quinon’s birthday to celebrate his life.