The worst ferry disaster in U.S. history happened 40 years ago in Luling

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NEW ORLEANS (WGNO) – For many residents of St. Charles Parish, October 20, 1976, is a day that will always weigh heavily on their hearts.

That was the day the George Prince Ferry sank in the Mississippi River, taking the lives of 77 passengers.

According to the St. Charles Parish website, the George Prince was crossing the Mississippi from Destrehan to Luling when the Frosta, a 22,000-ton Norwegian tanker, collided with the ferry.

Only 18 of the George Prince’s 95 passengers survived the collision, making it the single worst ferry disaster in the history of the United States.

The accident spurred a change in maritime law that resulted in large ships on the river always having right of way, and random drug and alcohol testing became standard for all vessel employees.

When the nearby Hale Boggs Memorial Bridge opened in 1983, the ferry line was discontinued, but the families of the 77 victims of the George Prince Ferry disaster will always remember the day of the historic collision that took so many lives.

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