George Prince Ferry Memorial
October 20, 1976
On October 20, 1976, the worst ferry disaster in the history of the United States occurred on the Mississippi River in St. Charles Parish. Seventy-seven lives were lost. The people of Louisiana will never forget you.
"When you pass through the water I will be with you; In the rivers you shall not drown, for I am the Lord, your God, the Holy One of Israel, your Savior."
It was 40 degrees fahrenheit and dark at dawn, without fog, as the fifty year old George Prince Ferry was making its passage way across the Mississippi River from Destrehan to Luling. The skipper was Captain Gene Auletta. Ninety-five people were aboard that morning, most of them young men who worked at the plants on the Riverbank.
As the George Prince traveled close to a mile from the east bank to the west bank, a 22,000 ton Norwegian tanker, the Frosta, sighted the ferry dangerously close to the front of the ship's bow. Pilot Nicholas Colombo signaled the George Prince several times, but it was too late. A massive collision ensued.
Relatives and friends of those aboard the George Prince anxiously stood vigil on the Mississippi River levee for days, watching the rescue efforts
The tragedy spurred changes in Maritime Law. Ships in the river now legally have the right of way over smaller vessels. The Coast Guard now subjects pilots and all other employees on vessels to random drug and alcohol testing.
The Hale Boggs Memorial Bridge was under construction at the time of the accident. It was opened in 1983, thus ending the Destrehan-Luling ferry run.
Location. 29° 56.856′ N, 90° 22.232′ W. Marker is in Destrehan, Louisiana, in Saint Charles Parish. Marker can be reached from River Road (State Highway 48) north of West Campus Drive, on the right when traveling north. Touch for map. Located in the Eastbank Bridge Park, directly under the bridge. Marker is at or near this postal address: 13244 River Road, Destrehan LA 70047, United States of America.
Other nearby markers. At least 8 other markers are within one mile of this marker, measured as the crow flies. Hale Boggs Bridge (a few steps from this marker); Saint Charles Borromeo Church (approx. 0.3 miles away); St. Charles Borromeo "Little Red Church"
Categories. • Disasters • Waterways & Vessels •
Credits. This page was last revised on November 4, 2017. This page originally submitted on November 3, 2017, by Cajun Scrambler of Assumption, Louisiana. This page has been viewed 82 times since then and 17 times this year. Photos: 1, 2, 3, 4, 5, 6, 7, 8, 9, 10. submitted on November 4, 2017.