Body of second victim found, Pickle remembered as coach, friend
LAKE ST. JOHN — A day after witnesses to a boat accident pulled the body of local educator and coach Bruce Pickle from Lake St. John, a second victim was pulled from beneath the debris of the pier Pickle’s fishing boat struck.
Officials located the body of Larry Allen, 52, of Pearl, at approximately 11:30 a.m. Sunday near the site of the boat accident, according to the Louisiana Department Wildlife and Fisheries, the agency that worked the investigation.
The two men were cousins who planned to spend the weekend fishing, friends said. Pickle lived on the lake.
Terry Moffett, a friend and former colleague of Pickle, graduated with him in the Adams County Christian School class of 1979.
Moffett spoke to Pickle Friday night just hours before the accident. Pickle told Moffett was going night fishing with his cousin.
“He was talking about going fishing (again) with me (Sunday), after his cousin left,” Moffett said.
The friends and fishing buddies had planned to catch up with each other later in the weekend and make the plans.
“Unfortunately, I wasn’t able to do that,” Moffett said.
Friends and relatives spoke about Pickle’s love of fishing, basketball, Jimmy Buffett and educating young people in the classroom, court and field.
“He enjoyed seeing people hustle, and I think that’s the reason he was successful as a coach; he could just bring the best out of some folks,” Moffett said.
“He loved his students,” said Ed Pickle of Natchez, Bruce’s older brother.
Pickle was most recently a physical education teacher and coach at Vidalia Junior High School.
Last season, he coached the VJHS football team to a 6-0 season.
In 2010, Pickle coached the boys’ basketball team to a 27-0 season, setting the record for the most wins without a loss, Vidalia Junior High School Principal Whest Shirley said.
Before coaching in Vidalia, Pickle coached girls’ basketball at his alma mater, Adams County Christian School, for eight years, where he also taught in the early 90s and coached softball with Shirley.
“In ’92, we won the state championship together,” Shirley said.
Shirley said he hired Pickle at Vidalia Junior because Pickle was the type of coach he wanted his son to have.
Shirley’s son was on the team last year that won the tri-parish championship.
“(Students) call him Pic, they loved him; he was just a really good coach,” Shirley said.
Shirley recalled Pickle’s passion from the sidelines and on the court.
Pickle also played college basketball at Copiah-Lincoln Community College.
“If you ever met Bruce, he was about 5-foot-nothing, and when he played (basketball) you would think he was 7-feet — a monster of a man,” Shirley said.
Moffett said Pickle wanted to win, but he wanted to win the right way.
“(Pickle) was just a good person to be around; I enjoyed being around him,” Moffett said.
Shirley said if basketball was Pickle’s No. 1 passion, fishing came in second.
In fact, Pickle planned to quit teaching football this coming school year and focus on basketball so he could have more time to fish out on the lake, Shirley said.
The accident occurred half a mile from Pickle’s house. Both the pier and boat involved in the accident received heavy damage.
Concordia Parish Sheriff’s Office spokesperson Capt. David Hedrick said the boat ran straight through the pier, causing it to collapse, but the motor detached on impact.
Pickle was found in the water by some onlookers after they witnessed the bass boat crash into the pier. Pickle was ejected from the boat and was recovered by the witnesses who attempted CPR on him before authorities arrived.
Allen fell out of the boat as the pier collapsed, Hedrick said.
Officials from the CPSO and Wildlife and Fisheries worked the investigation all day Saturday and resumed the search for Allen Sunday following failed attempts Saturday to drag the lake floor.
Hedrick said a truck used to haul big rigs lifted most of the pier debris Sunday, making it safe for divers to search for the presumed second victim.
Hedrick said divers first located Allen’s shoe then discovered his body deeper beneath the debris.
Ed Pickle said his family is hanging in there, and he wanted to thank the community for the support his family has been shown.
“There’s been an outpouring of (support) for our family,” Ed said.
Shirley spoke about Pickle’s Christian faith, recalling that Pickle never started or ended a game without a prayer.
He remembered when Pickle brought a box of 75 Bibles to his office at school and asked Shirley to distribute them. Pickle didn’t tell him then, but Shirley later figured out Pickle received those Bibles for donating $1,000 to the Fellowship of Christian Athletes.
But Pickle wouldn’t take any credit for it, Shirley said.
“That’s the type of guy he was … he didn’t want to be in the limelight; he just did his job,” Shirley said.
“There’s no telling what (his career) would have been like.”
Moffett said the community might be able to fill the job Pickle had, but the loss of Pickle as a coach, teacher and person will take some time to get over.
“I’m gonna miss him,” Moffett said.
“I know the good Lord has gained a good friend of mine. And me knowing that helps me.”