“I didn’t answer the phone”; wife of lift boat crewman grieves loss of husband

Lift Boat victim's family reacts

NEW ORLEANS (WVUE) - The Lafourche Parish Coroner identified one of the men aboard the Seacor Power lift vessel as 53-year-old Anthony Hartford of New Orleans.

Hartford’s body was recovered Friday evening by the U.S. Coast Guard.

Now, his family grieves the loss as they attempt to carry on without him.

His wife Janet Hartford says he worked offshore for more than 20 years. The last time she heard from her husband was March 30...her birthday.

“All I can say is my husband would give the world; to me, to anybody. He was always wanting to make sure something was in the kitchen. There ain’t nothing in the kitchen right now,” Mrs. Hartford said.

“He bought me a cake and some roses which are still sitting on the table. I don’t know why I didn’t throw them away, they should have been gone but...”

Anthony and Janet made their home in New Orleans, which is where she spent Saturday after learning the news of her husband’s death. She was surrounded by their children, siblings, and nieces and nephews.

His family described him as a giant teddy bear and a consummate provider.

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“There’s just so much I can say about him. The kids were young. So he was always doing six weeks, but as time passed by and the baby graduated, I used to tell him you know Anthony, you need to slow this down. He would tell me no, you like that money. Don’t act like you don’t like that money.”

Janet also works full time at a nearby hospital. In the days leading up to the accident, she says she and Anthony were both busy working and kept missing each others calls.

“I didn’t even get a chance to just say goodbye. The last thing he told me was a text on my phone. The last thing that my husband said was ‘hugs and kisses’ and that was it.

And that’s a text I’ve got to hold on to for the rest of my life. He didn’t even get a chance to say anything because I didn’t answer the phone. But I’ll tell anybody out there, when you get that call, even if you have to answer just to say I gotta call you back.”

With almost no time to even begin processing their grief, the Hartfords say they’ll lean on each other and their faith.

“I look at it like God had the last word and now we all have to just figure out how to be here for each other.”

The Lafourche Parish Coroner identified the other crewman recovered Friday as 55-year-old James Wallingsford of Gilbert, La.

The body of the captain, David Ledet, 63, of Thibodaux was recovered along with six survivors after the boat capsized in the Gulf of Mexico during severe storms on Tuesday, April 13.

Visitation will be held in his honor on Wednesday, April 21 at Thibodaux Funeral Home from 9 a.m. until the Funeral Service at 12 p.m. Burial will follow at St. Charles Borromeo Cemetery in Thibodaux.

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