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Crane operator who died in the lift boat disaster remembered by friends and family in North Louisiana community

Updated: Apr. 18, 2021 at 9:46 PM CDT
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GILBERT, La. (WVUE) - Residents of Gilbert, a village located an hour south of Monroe with a population of 504, are grieving the loss of “one of the best men you’ll ever meet”.

James “Tracy” Wallingsford was one of the missing crewmembers who was recovered this weekend at the scene of the Lift Boat Disaster at Port Fourchon. He was a crane operator on the jack-up barge.

Local residents spoke with KNOE about the community’s loss but were too emotional to do so on camera. Several residents said that Wallingsford and his family are well-known and well-loved in the area. Another mentioned how his wife Shelia would light up and speak of her husband as if it was like they had just begun dating.

The owner of Boone’s Grocery and Crickett’s Hide-Away in Gilbert said that she’s known the family for more than 20 years and that his death is a “big loss” for the community.

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