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Student Project Goes into State Archives

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A video documentary completed by a graduate of the Master's program in Communication at the University of Louisiana at Lafayette has been accepted into one of the state's prestigious archives.

The Board of Directors of The Historic New Orleans Collection recently announced their acceptance of Royd C. Anderson's original video project covering The Luling Ferry Disaster of 1976 finished under the direction of Dr. William Davie.

The 22-minute documentary explores in detail the tragedy that struck the morning of October 20, 1976, on the Mississippi River at the Destrehan-Luling Ferry Crossing, where a Norwegian tanker collided with a ferry.

Commuters who routinely boarded the boat on their way to work were sent into watery depths. The death toll from the collision was 78, and the accident produced two important results: enhanced regulations requiring random drug and alcohol testing for pilots, and the construction of a bridge that now serves motorists along Interstate 310 between Destrehan and Luling.

“ I was reading the book, Louisiana the First 300 Years by Joan B. Garvey and Mary Lou Widmer. In the book, the Luling Ferry Disaster was summarized well, but was condensed to only one paragraph,” Anderson said. “Upon doing further research on the accident, I realized the impact and magnitude of this tragic event seemed to have been forgotten over the past three decades. I thought it was necessary to re-examine the case 30 years later, in a documentary format so that future generations will be aware of this monumental tragedy. It was the worst ferryboat accident in U.S. history.”

The Historic New Orleans Collection was established in 1966 by General and Mrs. L. Kemper Williams in order to make Louisiana materials available to the public through research facilities and exhibitions. Anderson's documentary will be made available to researchers for years to come. The Collection operates a museum accredited by the American Association of Museums in a complex of the historic French Quarter buildings at 533 Royal Street.

“ The film was dedicated to the victims of the Luling Ferry Disaster. Having the film archived for further research assures me the documentary reached one of my objectives, but I still would like to do more to honor the victims and their families,” Anderson said.

Anderson earned his Master's of Science degree with a concentration in Mass Communication/Broadcasting, and is now teaching Television Production at Hahnville High School in St. Charles Parish.

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