Representing all of those who have lost their lives to the sea

Ceremony held for lost at sea memorial - blog post image

By Bridget Mire Staff Writer
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In 2000, Mike Callais’ father died while scuba diving in the Gulf of Mexico. Eight years later, his brother was thrown overboard when a wave hit the boat he was on during a diving trip in the Gulf.

His father’s body was recovered, but not his brother’s.

“It’s hard to get closure,” Callais said.

Soon, Callais and others who have lost loved ones to the sea will be able to visit the Our Lady of the Gulf Monument next to Port Fourchon’s Emergency Command Center. The Greater Lafourche Port Commission, for which Callais is an interim board member, donated the land.

Cindie Roussel connected with families of some who died in the April 20, 2010, Deepwater Horizon oil spill to build the memorial.

Roussel lost her 27-year-old son, Blake Terry, to the Gulf of Mexico in a diving incident. He went missing Aug. 13, 2011, and his body was never recovered.

“There’s truly an emptiness, and it’s even harder when you don’t have anything to be able to grasp,” Roussel said. “You have the loss, but you have a double loss.”

A groundbreaking ceremony for the memorial took place today, and the unveiling is expected to be in October.

“We all agreed that this is the right place,” said Davie Breaux, deputy port director. “That oil rig (involved in the spill) was actually serviced out of Fourchon, so they were used to going in and out of here. This is where they left to go to work. We think it kind of fits.”

Robert Epstein, who owns the Colorado-based Highstone Studio, designed the monument. Picciola and Associates in Cut Off and Ray Baudoin Builders in Raceland are also involved with the project.

A mermaid will be ascending from the water, bathed in air bubbles and sunlight, and her cloak will include diving fins, an oil rig and sea life. The monument will have a bronze finish and stand about 16 feet tall from its platform.

Bricks are being sold at for the base of the monument. People can donate bricks in support of the Our Lady of the Gulf Foundation or in memory of someone who worked on or simply enjoyed the water.

The bricks are $150 for one that’s 4-by-8 inches and $300 for one that’s 8-by-8 inches.

People can also request memorial plates for loved ones lost at sea by filling out a form on the website.

Roussel said the memorial will represent people whose livelihood is the Gulf.

“We have accidents and we lose loved ones, but we’re still drawn to come back here,” she said. “We still want to be by the Gulf. That’s never going to change. We’re still drawn to the water.”

-- Staff Writer Bridget Mire can be reached at 448-7639 or Follow her on Twitter @bridget_mire.


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