Missing Bayou Manchac boater body found

STAFF REPORT @WeeklyCitizen

Twenty-three year old Allan Fitzgerald, of Prairieville, was found after being missing on Bayou Manchac since the night of April 27 was found on the morning of May 1 about a mile downstream from where his small bateau ran into trouble nearly four days earlier.

State Department of Wildlife and Fisheries agents and Ascension Parish sheriff’s deputies found Fitzgerald, 23, about 8:05 a.m. Friday, according to rescue and recovery officials.

Officials spent the week searching via a variety of parish and state agencies that used a helicopter, sonar pulled by boats and the dragging of the bayou bottom in attempts to find the missing man.

Fitzgerald’s body was located just downstream from where Fitzgerald’s boat began taking on water but still 3.5 miles upstream from where the 12-foot bateau ended up led state wildlife agents to suggest that Fitzgerald somehow got out or fell out of the boat.

Fitzgerald and another man had been traveling in the bateau on the bayou Monday about three to four miles upstream of the Amite River when the boat began taking on water about 9 p.m., state wildlife officials reported.

Fitzgerald’s passenger, who was in the front of the boat, jumped in the bayou before the bateau sank, but Fitzgerald remained in the back of the boat, the officials said.

Fitzgerald’s passenger made it to shore and found a house where he called 911 for help.

Neither Fitzgerald nor his passenger had been wearing life jackets, wildlife officials said.

The two were also on the bayou after severe rain storms early on Monday had briefly subsided, but they had been caught in rain on the Amite later that evening at one point before heading back in a boat with a small, 6-horsepower engine against strong currents.

Wildlife officials had noted earlier this week the high water on Manchac had made the search for Fitzgerald more difficult.

Authorities began searching 10 p.m. Monday for Fitzgerald and stopped about five hours later, waiting for daybreak Tuesday.

The search continued all day Tuesday, Wednesday and Thursday and again Friday morning.

Agents with the state Wildlife and Fisheries Enforcement Division and the Ascension, Livingston and East Baton Rouge parishes sheriffs’ offices; and the St. Amant and Galvez fire departments had been a part of the search.