Coast Guard stock

The Advocate file photo

One man was missing and two other people were rescued after a towing vessel sank Monday night in the Mississippi River south of Myrtle Grove in Plaquemines Parish, the U.S. Coast Guard said.

The Coast Guard said it called off its search for the missing man Tuesday after 18 hours.

"The decision to suspend a search is never easy," said Cmdr. Michael Wolfe, a search and rescue mission coordinator at Coast Guard Sector New Orleans. "We saturated the search area with search crews but, unfortunately, were unable to locate the missing person.”

The Plaquemines Parish Sheriff's Office was among the agencies that joined in the effort. A spokesman said it would continue searching for the missing person.  

While authorities didn't release the name of the missing person, friends of his on social media identified him as David Mills, of Marrero. 

It was about 8:10 p.m. Monday when the Coast Guard received word that the vessel, the Seattle Slew, had capsized around mile marker 55, the agency said. Of the three people on board, two were quickly rescued.

A Coast Guard helicopter and boat were on the scene Tuesday leading the search for the missing man. Boats with the Plaquemines sheriff's office and port authority and the state Department of Wildlife and Fisheries also joined the effort.

About three miles of the river were closed near the scene of the capsizing as the search unfolded. 

Mills had worked at Avondale-based Wood Resources until very recently, and that firm was flying its flags at half-staff in his honor as the search for him continued, a company official said Tuesday. 

David Mills portrait

David Mills, via Facebook

The official said Mills had left Wood Resources because his work at the company required him to live on board for lengthy stretches.

The official said Mills was working for Turn Services, listed as the owner of the Seattle Slew, on Monday. 

The Plaquemines Sheriff's Office told WWL-TV that the Seattle Slew was in the process of moving an empty barge when it started taking on water.  

The Facebook page of a woman identifying herself as Mills' girlfriend published a post Tuesday afternoon reading, "Prayers needed please." 

The cause of the capsizing remained under investigation Tuesday. 

The Seattle Slew was the second towing vessel to sink in the Mississippi River in Louisiana in the past week. The river is at very high levels following heavy rains to the north, making navigation difficult and dangerous.

The Michelle Anne sank in the river near Baton Rouge on Thursday. Four passengers were safely rescued after they took refuge on the empty cargo barge their vessel had been pushing. The scene was caught on video by a man on a passing boat.

The boat went down just south of the Interstate 10 bridge, near the east bank of the river where River Road intersects Brightside Drive south of the LSU campus, the Coast Guard said.

Staff writers Emma Discher and Adrienne Underwood contributed to this report. 


Follow Ramon Antonio Vargas on Twitter, @RVargasAdvocate.