Assistant LSU cheerleading coach among 5 injured

An assistant head LSU cheerleading coach and four other people were injured in a boating accident Saturday on the Diversion Canal near the Tiki Hut, St. Amant Fire Chief James LeBlanc said Sunday.

The accident happened about 7 p.m. when a blue-and-white Bayliner carrying two adults and three children crashed into a private pier, LeBlanc said in a news release.

One of the injured boaters was airlifted to a hospital in Baton Rouge, LeBlanc said. The other four people were taken by Acadian Ambulance ground units.

Herb Vincent, a spokesman for LSU, confirmed Sunday that one of the adult victims is Chico Garcia, 29, assistant head cheer coach for the LSU cheerleading squad since 2006.

None of the other four victims have been identified. The current extent of their injuries is also unknown.

Vincent said Garcia, who was an LSU cheerleader from 2002 until 2006, suffered injuries to the vertebrae in his neck and has no feeling or movement from the chest down.

However, Garcia had surgery Sunday and doctors told the family that they “detected sensation in his upper arms, which is very good news,” Vincent said.

“But it will be 72 hours before we know the extent of damage to his spinal cord,” Vincent added.

Vincent said Garcia has coached cheerleaders all over the nation and is well-known in that community.

“There’s a lot of visitors at the hospital right now,” he said.

Vincent said a website called getwellchico.com has been set up so people can find out more information about Garcia.

The Ascension Parish Sheriff’s Office Water Rescue, the Maurepas Fire Department and the state Department of Wildlife and Fisheries assisted the St. Amant Fire Department Fire and Rescue Team with the rescue.

Wildlife and Fisheries is continuing the investigation, LeBlanc’s release says.