- Associated Press - Sunday, July 30, 2017

PORT FOURCHON, La. (AP) - Before the year is over, a 16-foot-tall statue of a mermaid rising from the water will stand on Louisiana’s waterfront as a memorial to all who have died at sea.

Cindie Roussel, whose son was lost diving in the Gulf of Mexico in 2011, worked with families of some of the men who died when the Deepwater Horizon oil rig caught fire in 2010 to commission The Lady of the Gulf Seaman’s Memorial .

The body of Roussel’s son, Blake Terry, 27, was never found.

“There’s truly an emptiness, and it’s even harder when you don’t have anything to be able to grasp,” Roussel told The Daily Comet at a groundbreaking ceremony Wednesday. “You have the loss, but you have a double loss.”

Installation of the statue by Robert Bruce Epstein of Lakewood, Colorado, is expected in September, with unveiling in October.

The Greater Lafourche Port Commission donated the land where the statue will stand at Port Fourchon.

“We all agreed that this is the right place,” said Davie Breaux, deputy port director. The Deepwater Horizon “was actually serviced out of Fourchon, so they were used to going in and out of here. This is where they left to go to work,” he said. “We think it kind of fits.”

Interim commissioner Mike Callais said his father died scuba diving in the Gulf in 2000, and his brother was thrown overboard in 2008 when a wave hit the boat he was on during a diving trip. Only his father’s body was recovered.

“It’s hard to get closure,” he said.

The organization’s website describes the mermaid as “ascending from the water bathed in air bubbles and sunlight. In the folds of her watery cloak, she carries all those who have been lost at sea.”

Diving fins, an oil rig and sea creatures are shown within her cloak to represent people whose livelihood is the Gulf and those who come to it for recreation, Roussel said.

“What I love the most about her is she’s looking up and she’s ascending with this peace,” Roussel said. “When you go through such horrific tragedy you’re looking for peace. You’re looking for any way to stop the pain from everything you’re going through. If you see her face and the way she’s ascending toward the heavens, she has that peace we are looking for.”

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