What started as a normal morning at the Jourdan River Steamer construction site in the Kiln ended in tragedy as a portion of the building collapsed, fatally injuring 54-year-old Gary Berthelot. Former contractor and Kiln resident Mr. Mauffray said, “The accident is very unfortunate. You know and I can’t say what the blame is, but I’m sure the experts will figure everything out and go from there.”
According to Hancock County Coroner Jim Faulk, workers were pouring concrete on a raised section of flooring. Berthelot went underneath to check if it was secure when the structure collapsed on top of him. Workers tried to rescue Berthelot and dig him out, but by the time they reached him, it was too late.
Those who knew Gary Berthelot describe him as a caring man who was always willing to help those younger than him learn the ropes. They can’t seem to wrap their head around the tragedy.
The owner of the Jourdan River Steamer property was a close friend of Berthelot and tells News 25 he’s unsure where to go from here. The Steamer was severely damaged in Hurricane Katrina and this construction project was meant to restore a once popular restaurant. “They were trying to get it back established so they would have a business again and then tragedy again comes along for them. And I feel sorry for the family that lost their loved one,” said Mr. Mauffray.
While unclear if, and when, construction on the Steamer will continue, the Kiln community continues to mourn the loss of a man who dedicated much of his life to construction along the Gulf Coast.