LaPlante, Editor/Columnist at Baton Rouge Paper, Seriously Injured

By: An editor for The Advocate, Baton Rouge, La.'s daily newspaper, was seriously injured Thursday while swimming at the beach with his children, a family member said.

John LaPlante, 54, was listed in critical condition at the University of Texas Medical Branch in Galveston, said Deborah Jones, a nurse administrator.

Linda Sadden, of Baton Rouge, a cousin who has been in contact with LaPlante's wife, Merrill, said Thursday night that LaPlante was receiving breathing assistance in the hospital's intensive care unit.

His family was taking a short vacation while his children were out of school this week for spring break. LaPlante was swimming with his two children near the 61st Street Fishing Pier when a strong current swept them away, Sadden said.

Laplante's teenage son and daughter managed to climb out of the water onto a rock jetty, Sadden said. Bystanders threw LaPlante a life ring, which he held onto for a short time before losing his grasp, she said.

He was rescued by life guards.

The 61st Street Fishing Pier is a popular gathering spot open 24 hours a day to fishermen and residents who frequent the sightseeing deck over the Gulf of Mexico, pier worker Norah Maddin said.

Maddin said swimmers are not allowed within 300 feet of the pier. The past few days have been windy, she said, causing the water to be rough.

"In terms of people getting caught in a riptide around here, it happens at least a few times a year," Maddin said.

In addition to his duties as editor of the newspaper's Capitol News Bureau, LaPlante is also a political columnist.


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