Missing boater remains found in St. Charles

Published 12:00 am Wednesday, July 27, 2005


Staff Reporter

DES ALLEMANDS — The body of a 59-year-old Des Allemands resident was found by the Louisiana Wildlife and Fisheries Officers with the help of St. Charles Parish, LaFourche Parish and the Des Allemands Fire Department Friday afternoon after a 24-hour search.

Public Information Officer Pat Yoes of the St. Charles Parish Sheriff’s Office said the body of Charles “Redd” Cornwell was found Friday afternoon shortly after 2 p.m.

“This is still under investigation,” said Lt. Col. Brian Spillman of LAWLF. “We believe at this time that Mr. Cornwell was ejected from his boat after it struck a log in the water and the boat started spinning counter-clockwise. We call it the circle of death, where the boat hits something and starts spinning, throwing the person out, and they get caught in the middle of the circle of water and they try to grab the boat.”

Propeller marks where found on the log and on Cornwell’s body, leading officials to believe that while trying to get back into his boat he was struck by the propeller, according to Spillman.

Cornwell’s boat was located around 2:30 p.m. on July 21 by two fisherman approximately three miles South of the Des Allemands Bridge, running in circles. It is believed that Cornwell was not wearing a life jacket, because one was found on the boat.

An autopsy was scheduled, but no further information has been gathered, according to Spillman.

Cornwell’s sister, Margaret Belford, said her brother would be missed by everyone.

“This is such a tragic situation,” Belford said. “He was an outdoors person, it was his life. It is just such a shock that this happened, because he always had his life jacket on. He has been to Alaska, and in more dangerous situations than this. It just doesn’t make sense for this to happened to someone who is so experienced.”

Belford said it was a shock and will probably never be explained.

“I guess it was just his time,” she said. “If he had to go, it is best that it was while he was doing something he loved. Water was his life. He loved to fish. He was like a Grizzly Adams.”

Belford said her brother’s nickname “Redd” was given to him, because he had red hair. She chuckled and said, “Well he did. You know when people with red hair get older, it turns white.”

Even though her brother had no formal education, it was amazing how much he knew.

She said, “I have a formal education and sometimes it was so amazing to sit and talk to him and realize how much he knows about nature and how much he knew about life. Things that I never knew. He was unique.”

Cornwell loved their parents, according to Belford.

“He loved and took care of our parents,” she said. “Our mom worries a lot, so he would always take his cell phone with him when he would go out to make her feel better. He was such a giving person. I am from Arkansas and he knew I loved boiled crabs, and every time I would come visit he would make sure he had some boiled crabs for me. He was just that kind of person. If he knew you loved something, he would make sure you had it.”

Belford said her brother lived with their parents and always made sure they were taken care of.

“He loved mom and dad,” she said. “He would go out to the bayou, and if he saw wildflowers he would pick them, bring them home to mom and put them on the table in a vase for her. He is going to be missed. By everyone.”