Wife recalls Tiki Tubing horrors and husband’s death on Amite River, Livingston Parish leaders look for solutions

State News

"You put us on a bus and drove us to my husband's death."

DENHAM SPRINGS, La. (BRPROUD) — Tiki Tubing is at the center of yet another death on the Amite River. 

Police confirmed that Elson Johnson Jr. drowned Saturday while tubing. Now, the wife of another victim is speaking out saying the company was not telling the truth about the dangers.  

“Elson Johnson Jr., died last Saturday, July 24, 2021. My husband, Keith Hillard died June 19, 2021,” said the wife of Keith, Lisa Hilliard.

The list continued with names of those who have lost their lives at the Amite River. 

“I wish we weren’t there. We should not have been there,” she said.

Hilliard recalled the painful day when both, she and her husband flipped out of their tubes into the water.

While her son was helping her back into the tube, her husband reached out to grab something that fell out of his pocket and was submerged underwater.

“It’s like something was pulling him down as my son was trying to pull him up. He was screaming ‘Mom I can’t get him,'” Hilliard explained.

She said her husband was gone right before their eyes after getting sucked into the water.

Hilliard said they went to Tiki Tubing to celebrate Father’s Day, but it ended in tragedy.

“You put us on a bus and drove us to my husband’s death,” said Hilliard in regards to the bus that transported them from the front desk to the launch point.

Hilliard said she didn’t see any signs posted warning her family about the dangers on the river. She did speak to someone on the phone before going to the site but believes the company wasn’t telling the truth about the risk while tubing.

“They told us it was safe. It was waist-high to shallow water. We didn’t have anything to worry about. On the bus my husband turned and said to the driver, ‘we didn’t get any instructions.’ He said ‘grab a tube and get in the water,'” Hilliard said.

Many called on Livingston Parish leaders to step in.

“For those who say shut it down. You can’t do that, but these are adults making decisions on if they want to go tube,” said Livingston Parish President Layton Ricks.

Ricks said there are no ordinances in place yet. 

“I do think we need something on the books, making sure safety protocols are followed. I would like to see him have someone monitor the waterways,” said Ricks. 

The Central Fire Department said from last May to now they have responded to at least eight distress or injured calls.

We did reach out to Tiki Tubing to get answers about their safety measures but they told us to not call them again. The parish president says he will talk about this during a Parish Council Meeting on Aug. 12.

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