5 Killed in Louisiana Barge – Boat Crash

Three Houston-area men and two Louisiana residents were found dead early Thursday after their fishing boat slammed into a barge along a canal southwest of New Orleans, authorities said.

The fishing boat was found about 9:15 a.m. partially jutting out from below a barge that was moored along Falgout Canal near Houma, authorities said.

“You still had a portion of it that was underneath the (forward edge) of the barge,” said Maj. Euia Usie, with the Terrebonne Parish Sheriff’s Office.

At least one of the victims was found lying on the barge while the others were still inside the boat or in the water, Usie said.

“They were close together,” Usie said.

Sheriff’s officials identified the local victims as Rene Gauthier, 59, of Houston; Lawrence Flak, 54, of Conroe, and Katy resident William Voss, 49. The two Louisiana victims were Michael Carrere, 43, of Bayou Blue, and Carey Meche, 52, of Metairie.

Usie said his agency is assisting Louisiana’s Department of Wildlife and Fisheries in the investigation. He didn’t know how the victims were discovered.

Capt. Samuel Martin of Wildlife and Fisheries told the Houma Courier that workers tending to the barge found the men’s boat. The men, he said, likely died from injuries received upon impact. He said he was unsure whether the group wore life vests.

“Drowning was not the issue,” he told the Courier. “Trauma was the issue from them striking the metal barge.”

Terrebonne Parish Sheriff Vernon Bourgeois told WDSU-TV in New Orleans that the men were last seen around 10 p.m. Wednesday leaving the Dulac area on the way to Bayou Dularge.

Investigators don’t know how the 24-foot aluminum fishing boat with an outboard motor became pinned under the barge.

The men were planning to attend the Houma Oilman’s Fishing Invitational, officials said.

“All these gentlemen are oil-field employees that have been coming to the tournament for several years,” Usie said.

Officials said a steady stream of cars passes along a road running near the canal.

“You really couldn’t see it too much from the road because of the way the barges were placed,” Usie said.

He said there is a “fair amount” of boating traffic along the canal.

“We have a lot of people that fish down here for a living and they use it,” Usie said.