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Friends Mourn Death of 82-Year-Old Deckhand

CONSTANCE, Ky. (Joe Webb) -- The 82-year-old deckhand who fell off the Anderson Ferry and died in the Ohio River was an experienced and beloved river man. 

Virgil Souder, who lived just a quarter mile from the ferry, died Tuesday when he slipped off the ferry into an icy river.

Tuesday morning, someone had left a flag and flowers on Souder's car that was still in the Anderson Ferry parking lot.  A co-worker had written "RIP Virgil Souder" on his coveralls.

"Virgil's going to be missed," ferry captain Shawn Somers said Wednesday morning.

"He had a unique personality.  He was a lot of fun." 

Souder trained Somers and his friend Robert Lischkge who became licensed riverboat pilots in the 1990's.

"Yea, I was a deckhand and he was a pilot and he was an old-timer then," Lischkge told Local 12.

"He enjoyed the work and talking to the people."

Ferry operator Paul Anderson first met Souder when he started working there in 1961.  He says Souder started on the ferry in the late 1950's.

"He was a faithful, dedicated employee who loved the work.  He was reliable," said Anderson.

Souder apparently slipped off the ferry when it was taking a load of car passengers from Kentucky to Ohio Tuesday afternoon.  He was found two miles downstream.

Kay James grew up in Constance and said Virgil Souder was one of her favorite neighbors.

"He and his wife Norene have been to everything important in my life. My wedding, baby showers, my kids' baby showers, kids' graduations, my 40th wedding anniversary.  They've always been there for me.  Not just for me but for everybody they knew.  If you were sick, Norene and Virgil were the first ones there," said James.

The Coast Guard has opened a marine casualty investigation.  They say that could take several months.

Video HERE



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