LDWF Agents Investigating Fatal Personal Watercraft Incident in St. Tammany Parish

Published 2:53 pm Wednesday, April 14, 2021

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The female boater, who was found alive after spending a night in the Tchefuncte River during treacherous weather, was pronounced dead at the hospital this morning, April 14.  Laura Thomas, 26, of Covington, died from her injuries this morning at the Lakeview Regional Medical Center in St. Tammany Parish.

Thomas was operating a personal watercraft (PWC) on April 9 in the Tchefuncte River and when she didn’t return search and rescue teams were notified around 9 p.m.  Louisiana Department of Wildlife and Fisheries (LDWF) enforcement agents, St. Tammany Parish Sheriff’s Office (STPSO) deputies and the U.S. Coast Guard immediately responded to the scene and searched for Thomas until 2 a.m. on April 10.

Authorities resumed the search at first light on April 10.  A good Samaritan found the missing PWC in the Tchefuncte River around 10:30 a.m. on April 10.  STPSO deputies then found Thomas around 11 a.m. with only her head above water while wearing a personal flotation device (PFD).

She was transported to the boat launch where emergency medical services brought her to the Lakeview Regional Medical Center.

The LDWF Enforcement Division will be the lead investigative agency for this boating crash incident.  LDWF agents believe at this time that Thomas struck a downed tree in the water and she was ejected into the water.  The PFD kept her afloat until she was found the next morning.