Barge worker’s body still hasn’t been found

Published 12:00 am Monday, May 25, 1998

L’Observateur / May 25, 1998

GARYVILLE – The body of Abraham Paul Alexis of LaPlace has still not been recovered after he accidently fell into the Mississippi River on Tuesday afternoon.

According to a witness, Alexis, 34, was painting a barge but not wearing a life vest when he slipped and fell into the river. The witness added Alexisbobbed up once, arms flailing, then disappeared into the dark waters and never came up again.

Authorities were notified of the accident at 3:48 p.m., according to Lt.Michael Tregre of the St. John Parish Sheriff’s Office.Searchers, including a U.S. Coast Guard helicopter, the St. John Sheriff’sOffice search-and-rescue crew and the Port of South Louisiana’s “John James Charles” fireboat crew, combed the area Tuesday and continued Wednesday with divers experienced in freeing obstructions from propellers.

The search was suspended Wednesday afternoon, said harbor services director Mitch Smith. “Suspended, not canceled.” He stressed vessels havebeen advised to keep an eye out for Alexis’ body.

“We tried, but the river is at such a high stage the chances are not good.

There’s subsurface currents, eddys, undertows and whirlpools. It’s reallydifficult to pin down the exact procedures in detection,” Smith said.

At the time of the accident, Alexis was an employee of Vida-Chem of New Orleans, subcontracted to St. John Fleeting in Garyville. A resident of3000 Yorktown, his family was notified at 4:56 p.m. of his likely death.

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