BAY ST. LOUIS, Miss. (WLOX) - Dozens of people showed up Tuesday night to pray for the three men still missing after two vessels collided on the Mississippi River over the weekend.
One of those missing men has been identified as Shawn Pucheu of Bay St. Louis. His family organized a candlelight vigil in honor of him and the two other two men, Lester Naquin and Matthew Brigalia.
The two towing vessels collided near Luling, La. around 5:30 a.m. on Sunday, Jan. 26. The Cooperative Spirit was reportedly traveling up river when it entered a barge fleeting area and allied with barges before colliding with the RC Creppel.
Four members of the RC Creppel were initially unaccounted for. The collision caused the RC Creppel to sink and barges to breakaway.
A Good Samaritan saved one of the men but the other three men remain missing. After searching over 835 nautical miles of the murky Mississippi River waters for 67 hours, authorities suspended the search.
Pucheu’s nephew Cody Summers helped organize the candlelight vigil in Bay St. Louis, hoping to bring the community together to help cope with their emotions and pray for the three men.
“We’re just in shock and we’re trying to process all this,” Summers said.
A Mississippi River chaplain also joined the families, praying for them and explaining the strong bond between those who spend their lives working on the water.
“It is a tight-knit family on the river. These men pass by each other, talk to each other all the time," said the chaplain, explaining the strong bond of the people who work together on the mighty Mississippi.
Some family members hoped the crewmen were still alive and waiting to be found, while others believed the worst has already come.
“I thought it can’t be real, you know. I just took a deep breath, cried a little bit and didn’t know what else to do you know,” said Shawn Pucheu’s uncle Willie Jenkins.
Jenkins was also a tugboat captain. He said he taught his nephew everything he knew.
“In my faith, I have found comfort and I know that he is with the Lord," Summers said.
Shawn Pucheu’s family is accepting donations through a GoFundMe campaign. For more details regarding the donations, click here.