Assumption and St. Martin parish sheriff’s deputies rescued a Baton Rouge couple early Monday who were treed for about five hours by alligators after their boat sank Sunday in choppy waters on Lake Verret, authorities said.
Deputies found Gerard and Lisa Triche about 15 feet up in cypress trees along the lake’s edge in Assumption Parish.
The couple tied themselves with a lifejacket and an Ace bandage to the trees so they wouldn’t fall while they waited for rescue.
The Triches were trying to avoid alligators that had been moving toward them in the swamps along the lake’s shoreline, Assumption Parish sheriff’s deputies said in a news release Monday.
They were found about a half-mile south of the Cracker Head Canal, which is a popular fishing area, deputies said.
Assumption Parish Sheriff Mike Waguespack said the location is about five miles from where the Triches launched their boat about noon Sunday at the Bayou Corne Boat Launch.
Deputies, who arrived sometime after midnight, said they spotted alligators in the vicinity.
Gerard Triche, 45, said bad weather kicked up waves on the lake after his 14-foot Monarch boat began having mechanical trouble, which deputies said happened about 5 p.m. Sunday.
Triche, who was on the lake with his wife, 48, to fish, said he was working on the boat when waves rolled over its stern, swamping it.
“It just sunk. It was violent and quick,” he said.
Lake Verret is shallow and quickly gets rough when there is a tropical storm in the Gulf of Mexico, Waguespack said, and Tropical Storm Debby was churning in the Gulf on Sunday.
Once the boat went under, Triche said, he and his wife swam a couple of hundred yards to cypress trees along the lake’s edge.
It did not take long for alligators to start swimming toward them, Triche said.
He speculated the reptiles were attracted to the couple’s life jackets.
Triche, who is diabetic, said he does not remember how he and his wife were able to climb the trees, but said they were working on adrenaline.
“All I know is you do what you got to survive,” said Triche, who said he has been boating on Lake Verret since he was a 5-year-old; his family has property on the lake.
Later in the evening, Triche said, he and his wife began getting weak after staying in the trees for several hours. He said he tied his wife to the tree with a life jacket and himself with an Ace bandage.
Deputies were called by a relative of the Triches about 9 p.m., who reported the couple missing, deputies said.
A relative called deputies again at 10:20 p.m., saying the couple sent a text message hours earlier, saying, “They were broken down across the lake,” deputies said.
Deputies searched fishing spots relatives knew the Triches frequented as well as other areas known to be popular, Waguespack said.
His reserve deputies know the lake’s hot fishing spots, the sheriff said.
Eventually searchers heard yelling and cut their boat engines to locate the cries for help, Waguespack said. Searchers were able to put lights on the Triches, who were deep in the cypress trees.
Once rescued, the couple was were taken to Joe Gaudet’s Boat Landing in Pierre Part, where they were checked by emergency responders, deputies said.
The Triches were taken to their vehicle parked at the Bayou Corne Boat Launch, which is just outside Pierre Part in the Grand Bayou area off La. 70 South, deputies said.
Their boat was recovered by Assumption Parish sheriff’s deputies and taken back to the landing, deputies said.
Gerard Triche credited the deputies for bringing him and his wife to safety.
“They were unbelievable. They are the heroes tonight, brother. They are unbelievable,” he said.
Copyright © 2011, Capital City Press LLC • 7290 Bluebonnet Blvd., Baton Rouge, LA 70810 • All Rights Reserved