DESTREHAN, La. (WGNO) — 46 years ago, the worst ferry disaster happened close to home in St. Charles Parish. On October 20, 1976, 77 lives were lost as a result of a crash on the Mississippi River.
According to parish officials, the George Prince Ferry was making its way towards Luling from Destrehan when a 22,000-ton Norwegian tanker known as the ‘Frosta,’ got too close to the front of the ship’s bow and caused a massive collision.
At the time of the crash, there were 95 people aboard. Family and friends gathered on the Mississippi River levee for days, watching the rescue efforts and hoping to be reunited with their loved ones as hard hats washed up on the riverbank.
Only 18 people survived the crash. St. Charles Parish officials made a Facebook post remembering the victims and acknowledging the anniversary saying “they will forever be in our hearts.” Because of the crash, there were many different changes in maritime law.
Ships in the river now legally have the right of way over smaller vessels. Along with that, the Coast Guard now subjects pilots and all other employees on vessels to random drug and alcohol testing.
The George Prince Ferry Memorial is now a historical landmark in Destrehan located at Eastbank Bridge Park, 13244 River Rd, Destrehan, LA 70047.