Reprint from  
Published Saturday, September 10, 2016


I have been told if you love your job then it’s not work, and I agree.

Our firefighters frequently demonstrate just how much they love their job. On Sunday, Aug. 28 at approximately 6:40 a.m. Chief Spencer Chauvin and other first responders responded to a single car crash on Interstate 10 westbound at milepost 203.

The response was as good as it gets that day until a passenger bus came barreling though, possibly driving too fast and knocking Chief Chauvin and two other firefighters over the railing into the swamp.

Witnessing the struggle of firefighters, state troopers and citizens trying to preserve the lives of fellow firefighters Chauvin and Firefighters William “Mack” Beal and Nick Saale will forever be in my memory.

Responders were administering CPR while three alligators started to swarm.

Officers were well prepared to open fire on the gators, but with all of this happening, the first responders remained calm under extreme pressure.

There is no training or rehearsal for this type of disaster.

Multiple cars on the elevated portion of Interstate 10 had to be turned around and directed back to Belle Terre.

Multiple helicopters had landed on the Interstate, and water had to be iced down and brought to the scene for everybody who was starting to feel the effects of a typical summer day, where it had just rained and the sun was out in force.

We all know that feeling!

St. John Parish invested in Chief Chauvin and got 110 percent in return.

He was a great guy, a leader and a true professional. He was on Interstate 10 that day as a leader.

Leaders don’t just tell, they show and tell. He was the total package of knowledge, skills and effort. It was a pleasure to work with him.

Yes, here in St. John Parish we have had our share of tragedies and destruction.

These unfortunate circumstances have made us tough, resilient and experienced.

I have been told by many people that God will give you only what you can handle and I firmly believe that.

I have no doubt that the First Responders will continue to serve the citizens of St. John Parish to the best of their ability.

And I think that Chief Chauvin was still hard at work protecting St. John Parish by shielding us from Hurricane Hermine last week.

Thank you, Sir, for your service to our community.

Mike Tregre is sheriff of St. John the Baptist Parish. He can be reached at