The following is a letter from St. Amant Fire Chief James E. LeBlanc:
The community of St. Amant is in mourning today with the loss of two precious children Faith Castilaw and Patience Lobell. Both students of our very own St. Amant Primary School in Ascension Parish.
Let me begin by telling each and every one of you that responded to the tragic accident in St. Amant last night how proud I am of you and the courage's efforts that each and every one of you displayed last night on this call. I mentioned to each one of you last night during our Critical Stress Debriefing Session, that every person that responded to the accident had a very unique talent that you displayed at the response.
From the area residents, volunteer firefighters and Sheriff's deputies that jumped in the water minutes after the incident occurred to do whatever you could to save those babies was such a rewarding experience for me and to all who responded last night. I watch you fight that water current, I watched your bodies shake from the coldness of the water, I watched the fear in your eyes as you fought to do whatever you could not to lose the vehicle that was completely submerged under water.
I watched your compassion for the family & community, your determination to never give up until those children were out of that black murky water. I watched and felt your gentleness as you brought those children to the banks of the Black Bayou and started CPR on Faith & Patience. I watched your self-control as you never let the surroundings around you last night get you off the path of doing whatever you could to save those children.
'Our sympathy and our hearts go out to the entire family, school and friends of Faith & Patience". Just know that not a second of the day passes that we are not thinking of you. "We mourn the loss of these two children and pray for their mother and their entire family during this unimaginable horror." "During this tragic accident last night we learned that tragedy always lurks too close and can strike swiftly and without warning."
The response today from the community has been very positive. Residents from all over this community & State have been calling and checking on our Firefighters & EMS Responders. "Our Volunteers are obviously shook up over the incident, but again I cannot thank each and every one of you enough for your kind words".
As I sit back and recall this horrific scene last night, I will never forget the way our firefighters from St. Amant, 7th. Dist., Sorrento and Gonzales worked as a team. I will never forget the Sheriff's Deputies who jumped in the water with no regard to their own safety. To the Gonzales Fire Department Dive Team, you guys are my heroes. To the very quick response of Yancy with Gonzales Towing and to every St. Amant resident that came out to comfort the family and responders on scene. To our St. Amant Councilman Randy Clouatre who responded to the scene to give us the support we needed to never give up, and to our Chaplain Ken Spivey who responded last night and instructed a very moving and inspirational Critical Stress Debriefing Session for all responders that responded to the call.
As we try to pick up the broken pieces today, we will work hand and hand with the family and local school to raise money to bring these two beautiful angels to their final resting place.
At this time, an account has been set up at Capitol One in the names of Faith Castilaw and Patience Lobell to help with funeral expenses.
God Bless each and every one of you.
Chief James E. LeBlanc
St. Amant Fire Department