Family Learns Importance Of Life Jackets The Hard Way

A Saucier family says tragedy taught them a difficult lesson, one the family hopes will help others.

Earlier this week we reported Freddy Estay, 32, drowned in Hancock County while on a family camping trip. Two other adults and a toddler were in a small boat with Estay when the weather turned and their boat sank.

Sunday, James and Rose Ordoyne spent two horrifying hours in the waters of Bayou Caddy struggling to survive.

"I ain't never been so scared in my life," James Ordoyne said.

The Ordoynes, their two year old daughter and a cousin set out in a 14-foot boat for a weekend of camping and fishing.

"When we stopped, a big wave came over the front of the boat and it pulled the front of the boat down."

They tried to use an ice chest to bail the water out the boat.

"By the time we did that, another wave came and just sunk the rest of the boat."

Everyone was tossed into the water, but only the child was wearing a life vest.

"We had four of them on the boat and all I could catch was two of them."

Ordoyne says he gave one to his wife and swam toward his cousin. But Freddy Estay had started to panic.

"When I looked over, his face was down in the water. So I let go of the life jacket and I grabbed him and tried to pick his face up and we both went under. I tried to get us both back up and I couldn't. The whole time I felt maybe I should have done more, maybe I couldn't. There was really nothing more I could do, but that was just a feeling in me."

Ordoyne says another nagging feeling is if the adults had been wearing the life jackets, his cousin might still be alive. He wants others to learn from their tragedy.

"Anybody with a life jacket, have it on before it goes down. Once your boat goes down, it's hard to put them on the right way. Fighting big waves like that, it's hard to put them on the right way."

The family had no life insurance for Freddy Estay. If you would like to help the family with funeral costs, you can make a donation at any Hancock Bank Branch in Freddy's name.

by Al Showers