PORT ALLEN — Friends of Kevin “Rooster” Guy describe him as a self-proclaimed river rat who lived for being on the water, which is why they didn’t bat an eye when the 46-year-old Port Allen man bought a canoe recently to commute back and forth across the Mississippi River.
But Guy’s friends are now praying the music lover’s unconventional solution to traveling between Port Allen and Baton Rouge hasn’t resulted in tragedy.
The U.S. Coast Guard reported Monday night that Guy was missing around 11:30 p.m. Friday while canoeing home after having attended a concert in Baton Rouge.
They searched the river from 5:30 p.m. Monday until suspending the search late Tuesday afternoon after finding no trace of Guy, his canoe or his bicycle.
“Everyone is praying he’s going to turn up somewhere,” local musician and entrepreneur Henry Turner Jr. said Tuesday.
Turner is the frontman for Henry Turner Jr. and Flavor, a Baton Rouge-based reggae, funk and soul band. Guy has been a roadie for the band since 1995.
Turner said he and his band mates last saw Guy around 10 p.m. Friday night after Guy left a live-music show at Turner’s lounge, The Listening Room, at 2733 North St. in Baton Rouge.
Guy told his friends he was leaving early because he had to canoe back across the Mississippi River. Turner said Guy had been canoeing back and forth across the river for several weeks. He didn’t own a car and usually biked most places he went, Turner said.
Authorities said Guy had his bicycle on board the canoe with him when he went missing.
“Everyone tried to talk him out of doing it; we tried to get him to wait for someone to (drive) him across the river,” Turner said. “But he was a Cajun dude. A river rat — he actually had a river rat tattoo on his arm. He wasn’t afraid of anything on the river. He was just wild.”
When Turner and friends didn’t hear from Guy the following day, they started worrying.
“He would check in every second,” Turner said. “Or if something was going on — if he got into any kind of trouble — he would text. We usually heard from him a couple times a day. A couple people tried calling him, then all of sudden his cellphone went straight to voicemail. That sent up a red alert for us.”
Guy’s mother, Judy Guy, who resides in Denham Springs, said her son lived alone in a trailer park in the 1500 block of U.S. 190 West in Port Allen.
She and her husband said they hadn’t heard from their son since last weekend. His mother said he would usually call to check in about once a week.
“I found out he was missing on the news,” Judy Guy said. “I really haven’t slept since.”
The Coast Guard launched its search for Guy after a missing persons report was filed Monday with the Police Allen Police Department, spokeswoman Lt. Niya Williams said Tuesday afternoon.
A Coast Guard search crew used a small boat to comb more than 20 miles of the Mississippi River waterway Monday evening between mile markers 209 and 232, which includes the Port of Greater Baton Rouge, she said.
Guy usually docked his canoe near the USS Kidd in Baton Rouge and the old ferry boat landing in Port Allen.
Williams said a Coast Guard Sector New Orleans helicopter crew also did an aerial search Monday night of about 180 miles of shoreline along the Mississippi starting at the Port Allen locks, moving south along the river bends.
Neither search crew found Guy or his canoe.
The river’s water level was at 22.9 feet the night Guy disappeared, Williams said.
“That’s normal conditions for lower Mississippi River,” Williams said. “A high-water situation would be anything 30 feet or above. Then you’re dealing with really strong currents. But that night, there wasn’t anything abnormal about the river’s conditions.”
However, Williams pointed out that recreational boating on the Mississippi River at night is still dangerous because the waterway is a high traffic area for commercial boating.
“Conditions change every day along the Mississippi,” she said. “We tell people they need to make sure they’re wearing life jackets. And if you’re boating at night, be well lit at all times because it’s harder for commercial vessels to see you at night.”
The Coast Guard suspended its search efforts on Tuesday evening, turning the case over to local authorities in Port Allen. “We will help out as much we can,” Williams said.
Port Allen Chief Esdron Brown said his men visited Guy’s trailer and found nothing suspicious that might indicate any foul play.
“We put his description out to the local agencies in the surrounding area,” Brown said Tuesday afternoon. “If something did happen to him out on the river, his body won’t turn up anywhere near here since so many days have passed since he was last seen.”
Follow Terry Jones on Twitter, @tjonesreporter.