The body of missing energy executive Douglas Schantz was fished out of the Mississippi River today, four days after surveillance video caught him stumbling up the narrow gangplank of a docked riverboat.
Schantz, 54, disappeared early Friday morning after making a $25,000 scholarship donation to Tulane University, the school his daughter was attending.
The search for Schantz began on Bourbon Street where he had been drinking with colleagues until the early morning hours, and followed surveillance cameras as he headed toward the Mississippi River.
Schantz's 25-year-old son Michael Schantz has seen one of several videos that caught his father walking towards the riverboat Natchez.
"Of course I am hoping for the best, and if a miracle happened it would happen to him because of everything he's done for the community," said 25-year-old Michael Schantz shortly before his father's body was identified. "But I've accepted the fact that I might have to take over for the family."
Michael Schantz said that one video showed his father "stumbling" and "grasping for a wall" as he made his way to the dock.
"[In the video] he walks down near the water and there is a gate that he opens," the son said. "I'm sure he just wanted to go reflect or look at the boat."
"There is only one way for him to come back and the tape never shows him coming back," he said.
The New Orleans Times-Picayune reports that a video camera spotted Schantz walking up the narrow gangplank of the Natchez, and then suddenly disappear.
Schantz had left a bar on New Orleans' famous Bourbon Street where he had been drinking with colleagues from Sequent Energy Management. Schantz was president of Sequent Energy Management.
Schantz, who is from Houston, was in New Orleans to donate a $25,000 scholarship to Tulane University, where his daughter is a senior. Schantz headed to the French Quarter after a reception held by the school. He was scheduled to fly home the next day.
He was first reported missing by his wife, Lori, on March 5 when he failed to show up to pick up his daughter from the Houston airport and missed a scheduled presentation at work.
But police said today that surveillence tape from Bourbon Street cameras showed Schantz wandering down to the river, spurring a search of the Mississippi River.
Michael Schantz said that his father had been traveling to Brazil before his trip to Louisiana, and was fighting off a cold as well as being extremely "sleep-deprived." He worried that a combination of over-the-counter cold medicine and alcohol may have lead his father to do something dangerous.
"He thinks he's invincible and that nothing is going to hurt him," Michael Schantz said of his father. "He is just fearless."
Michael Schantz says he feared that his father's attraction to the river may have cost him his life.
"My dad loved the water and he was just such a busy guy with work that every time he had a moment to reflect by himself he wanted to be by the water," he said. "He loves any chance he gets to be in or by the water."'
NOPD Superindendent Warren Riley told The Associated Press that police no longer believes that Schantz was the victim of foul play.
It was originally thought that Schantz, who is a high-paid executive for the natural gas company, may have been targeted.