INTRACOASTAL CITY, La. (KLFY) – Vermilion Parish has hundreds of miles of water. It’s great for recreational activities like boating and fishing.
But boaters can sometimes find themselves in trouble. Enter Lt. Dwayne “Bundy” Broussard and the Vermilion Parish Sheriff’s Office Marine Patrol Division.
“If they break down at night time we gotta go out at night and go try to rescue the people. We load them onto our boat and bring them back home,” Lt. Broussard said.
The marine patrol responds to search and rescue calls, drownings, and stranded boaters.
“Unfortunately the way things are nowadays, we can’t tow any more. But I guarantee you I’ll do my best to save your life,” Broussard said.
The marine division has two full time deputies, Lt. Broussard and Sgt. Lane Picard. Three deputies work for the division part-time.
We went out with Lt. Broussard in the marine division’s airboat. We cruised the inland waters and Vermilion Bay going about 30 miles per hour.
The airboat glides over the water. It can also go through marshes and ride on blacktop. But the boat can’t be used on beaches because it would stuck in the sand. Broussard used an airboat like this one during Hurricane Katrina.
“We rescued several people that we had to go pick up, you know we had to get across the blacktop and then go through deep water to be able to get to them for Hurricane Katrina,” he said.
The division also has an amphibious vehicle that was used extensively during last August’s flood. There’s also a rescue boat that can go up to three miles into the Gulf of Mexico, a patrol boat, and two flat boats.
“We don’t cut any corners when it comes to maintaining our boats,” Broussard explained. “It’s important to have our equipment well maintained because on the road you’re stuck on dry land. In the middle of the gulf you’re stuck.”
The marine patrol enforces boating laws and keeps an eye on the many camps that sit along the water’s edge. Deputies investigate burglaries, vandalism, and other crimes.
“We handle calls just like a road patrol unit does. Someone gets in a fight at a camp, we gotta respond. You can’t get to it by car so we gotta get to it by boat,” Broussard said.
But they’re not always in their boats. They also do road patrols in their trucks and check on boats docked at marinas throughout the parish.
The marine patrol division is on call 24/7, which should be comforting to the boaters, fishermen, shrimpers, and crabbers out on these waters. In fact in the first three months of this year alone, the marine patrol helped more than 20 stranded or disabled boaters.
The boaters we caught up with in Intracoastal City say it’s good to know that deputies are on the water.
“A phone call away and they’re coming,” said Dean Ardoin of Basile. “Oh yeah! They’ll help you out any way they can. Just call them up and they’ll be here for you.”
“I’ve been fortunate, I haven’t had to use them or anything but with all the boaters that are out here, it’s something good to have. Just in case,” said Brian Bellard of Carencro.
“Most of the people out here in the bay is all people that I know, so we just drive up to them and wave to them, clown around, we have their back with them and just let them know that if they need,” Lt. Broussard said.
The Vermilion Parish Marine Patrol also works with the U.S. Coast Guard, Louisiana Wildlife and Fisheries agents, and marine patrols from other parishes when situations call for cooperation.