Missing Boater’s Body Found in the Little Atchafalaya River

Published 10:34 am Saturday, May 8, 2021

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The missing body of a boater that was missing since April 29 was recovered from the Little Atchafalaya River on May 7 in St. Martin Parish.

The body of Robert Schoeffler, 81, of Lafayette was found around 6 p.m. on May 7 and his body was turned over to the St. Martin Parish Coroner’s Office.

Schoeffler was operating a 16-foot vessel with a passenger on board when another vessel collided with them on the Little Atchafalaya River about two miles south of the Butte La Rose Welcome Center Boat Launch around 2 p.m. on April 29.

Schoeffler and his passenger were ejected into the water without wearing personal flotation devices.  Schoeffler didn’t resurface and his passenger was able to swim back to the vessel.  The operator of the other vessel was unconscious, but remained in his vessel that was taking on water.  A good Samaritan was able to recover the operator of the other vessel before it sank.

Search crews from the Louisiana Department of Wildlife and Fisheries Enforcement Division, Iberia Parish Sheriff’s Office, St. Martin Parish Sheriff’s Office and the St. Mary Parish Sheriff’s Office immediately responded to the scene and searched for Schoeffler everyday.

The operator of the other vessel was airlifted to Lafayette General Hospital where he is still in critical condition.

LDWF will be the lead investigative agency for this fatal boating incident.  Schoeffler and his passenger were not wearing a personal flotation device when they were ejected into the water.