PORT FOURCHON, La. (KLFY) — The company responsible for underwater rescue in the Seacor Power tragedy is being sued for the first time. Family of a man found dead inside the ship claim they did not act fast enough to save lives.
Tracy Wallingsford was found three days after the Seacor Power capsized. His attorneys believe he survived the initial crash and went to an air pocket inside the ship to survive.
“Tracy Wallingsford was found in the engine room, and the autopsy shows he had burns on his leg, so he was clearly in that engine room before there was any water,” argued Captain Robert Lansden, one of the Wallingsford family attorneys.
Lansden claims Tracy Wallingsford was one of the men who were reportedly left behind alive on the first night the Seacor Power liftboat capsized. With a choice between the cold waves and the warm engine room, Lansden believes he chose latter using a hatch above the waterline to get inside, but from the April 13 to the 16 no dive team found him.
As attorney Thomas Discon explained, “Seacor had an obligation to its crew members and its passengers to try and rescue them, and they hired Donjon to do it. Well Donjon had an obligation in maritime law to do it correctly.”
“Most companies would have gotten it done,” Lansden added. “We ask why did Donjon fail, and we have the evidence already that shows that failure.”
Lansden and Discon’s lawsuit against Donjon Marine and Donjon-SMIT says they were negligent in their rescue operations failing to “properly coordinate”, “have an adequate rescue plan”, and “effectuate an appropriate rescue”.
The attorneys ask why thermal imaging or a map of which rooms the crew was assigned to was not used to prioritize to the order of the search. They also noted divers they spoke to said the conditions of the search were unsafe.
“This is not about the divers,” Lansden said. “The Leadership failed, and they failed the divers. The divers that we’ve talked wanted to succeed. They just didn’t have the equipment or the resources there to work with.”
Tracy Wallingsford was one of two men found dead inside the liftboat by divers. His widow’s lawsuit alleges with more efficiency, a better plan and better equipped dives, Tracy would have made it.
Check Donjon’s website. They’re on 24-hour notice to go rescue,” Lansden urged. “And here is a vessel three miles off the safety of the jetties of Port Fourchon.”
Wallingsford was from Franklin Parish and leaves behind a daughter and grandchildren. One possession recovered from his body was counting the time it took to rescue him.
“He’s not here, and he should have been,” Lansden concluded.
Pictures of Tracy Wallingsford were used with permission of Dakota Neilsen.