Articles Posted in Wrongful Deaths

There is a report of yet again another passenger on a cruise ship reported to have gone overboard, and not found. The latest involves a 32-year-old male from Georgia, a passenger on the Carnival Liberty cruise ship, a Carnival Cruise Line ship, who reportedly went overboard in the early morning hours of Friday, April 7, while the vessel was in Bahamian territorial waters after having left Cape Canaveral, Florida.

carnival-liberty-300x225At this time, the reports are that the United States Coast Guard was participating in the search and rescue efforts, as it does involve a United States citizen, and the ship did depart from the United States port. The Bahamian maritime authority will also get involved since the incident did happen in Bahamian waters.

Statistics that are available indicate there have been a number of passengers who have been reported to have gone overboard on a cruise ship this year alone. Just two weeks ago, we reported on another carnival passenger who fell overboard from the Carnival Victory ship.

MIAMI, Florida–The body of a female passenger who had gone missing from a Tirenia ferry has been located two months later in the ship’s ventilation shaft. The female passenger was aboard the MV Sharden, a ferry which can carry almost 3,000 passengers and 850 cars, back to Genoa after having vacationed in Sardinia, Italy with her husband. According to reports, the couple had been resting on sunbeds aboard the boat when his wife disappeared. The captain then ordered the ship personnel to conduct a search of the entire ship. Sadly, his wife could not be found, leading to the conclusion that she either had fallen overboard or had been the victim of a crime. However, two months later, her dead body has been found in the ship’s ventilation shaft. According to an autopsy report, she had died the night after she had disappeared

italy-300x225There have been incidences in the past where a passenger has reported something falling from above, believing it to have been a body falling into the water. The cruise ship company would then do an investigation on board the ship, determining that a passenger was indeed missing. However, at that point, precious time had passed before the authorities were notified and the search and rescue efforts started. This meant that usually the passenger was not found.

In 2010, President Obama signed into law legislation called the Cruise Vessel Security and Safety Act, which in part addressed overboard passengers, what Congress believed to be a serious problem with the cruise ship industry. Not only did Congress address the problem that these incidents were not always reported, as there were no mandatory reporting requirements that applied to the cruise ship industry at the time, but there was also a concern with delayed search and rescue efforts once a passenger was reported overboard. The legislation called for implementation of available technology, which would enable ships to immediately detect when someone had fallen overboard, prompting quicker search and rescue efforts.


MIAMI, Florida
–The sinking of the United States cargo ship El Faro, resulting in the loss of 33 mariners when the ship ran directly into the Category 3 Hurricane Joaquin, has been under investigation by the National Transportation Safety Board (NTSB). The cargo ship sank during a cargo run between Jacksonville, Florida and Puerto Rico. The voyage data recorder, similar to the black box aboard an airplane, was recovered. The ship’s data recorder, which recorded audio of the ship’s last 26 hours from microphones placed on the bridge, revealed conversations between the captain and the shoreside personnel, as well as conversations and comments from crew.

cargo-ship-300x225There still is no final conclusion reached by the NTSB as to the cause of this sinking, but the recent 510-page transcript reveal more about why this boating tragedy happened. Hurricane Joaquin clearly strengthened unexpectedly, and did end up taking a different track than anticipated. The captain apparently relied on conflicting forecasts to maintain his track during the voyage, not taking an alternative route. However, the investigation has revealed that weather conditions clearly deteriorated, and updated weather forecasts should have alerted the company and the captain that a change in the intended route of the vessel was required.

The audio recordings reflect that the captain considered changing course, but for some unexplained reason did not make the adjustments that were discussed. The recordings reflect the crew members questioning the captain’s decision not to change course, and as the conditions deteriorated and it became more evident that the captain was taking the vessel into dangerous waters and conditions, the recordings reflect the crew members’ voices becoming firmer and stronger.

MIAMI, Florida–Florida remains one of the leading states in the country regarding fatalities associated with recreational boating and water sport accidents.In this recent tragedy reported by various news outlets, it is reported that a 15-year-old boy from Vero Beach, Florida died after being thrown out of a 17-foot Boston Whaler boat that was driven by another young teenager in the Indian River Lagoon. 

waves-300x225The boat involved in this accident was towing another person who was either water skiing or wakeboarding at the time.  How fast the boat was going is unknown at this time but apparently it had some type of wake causing the boy to be ejected and knocked unconscious. The early reports indicate he was not wearing a life jacket. Efforts were made for search and rescue, and the United States Coast Guard was involved. His body was found in the lagoon later that afternoon.

 This is a very sad story. The young man was reported by fellow students to be well-liked, and had just recently made the varsity football team at his high school. It saddens me to hear that a case like this will simply add another number to the statistics of fatalities involving boating accidents here in the state of Florida. Once an investigation is completed we will know the true cause of this unfortunate tragedy, a needless death of a young man who obviously had a very bright future.

MIAMI, Florida–We have recently heard of two separate tragedies resulting from two separate excursions in New Zealand. When signing up for a shore excursion in a foreign country, we do not always consider the fact that the country we are in for the day may not have the same type of laws and safety protocols we are used to. We also do not consider that if something does happen to us during a shore excursion in a foreign country, what recourse we may have against the wrongdoer. As an American citizen abroad, we may in fact have limited ability to obtain justice against a wrongdoer whose negligence causes us harm.

newzealand-300x225These tragedies occurred during tours organized for the passengers on the Celebrity Solstice cruise ship that was docked for the night in New Zealand on November 22, 2016.  The first incident involved a tour bus full of cruise ship passengers crashing into a driver of a Mazda. The driver died as a result. The second incident involved a 71-year old cruise ship passenger on a cycle tour who was hit by a truck. She also died as a result of the accident.  Although injuries and deaths are not unusual during a shore excursion, as we have recently reported of another tragic accident on a shoreside excursion in the Dominica, two deaths on the same day from two different excursions is very unusual.

We understand that there is a risk of being hit by a car anywhere, and also, simply because there are risks associated with taking a cruise that travels internationally across the high seas, does not mean in any way that we suggest you do not take a cruise. Going on a cruise is a great way to spend a vacation, to relax, and to have fun. There are numerous activities both on board the cruise ship, and at the different ports the cruise ship visits.

MIAMI, Florida–A British cruise ship passenger has died and nine others have been injured in a tragic bus crash during a shore excursion in the Caribbean island of Dominica. The bus was on its way back from a tourist attraction when the accident happened. The cause of the accident is still not known. The passengers were from the P&O ship Azura.

dominica-300x198It is not uncommon to hear of passengers on cruise ships injured during accidents involving transportation of passengers to and from the site of the excursion, whether involving a bus, boat or other type of vehicle. In a case like this we would want to investigate the history of the shoreside excursion company, the longevity of the relationship the cruise ship company, in this case P&O Cruises, had with this particular company, and whether there were any prior problems with this company that the cruise company knew or should have known about.

The main question I receive is whether the cruise ship company can be held accountable for the negligence of the company operating the shore excursion. The maritime law has addressed this issue many times, and there is no simple answer to the question. However, it boils down to the usual question whether there is negligence on the part of the cruise ship company.

rocky
It has been less than a month since the shocking death of Miami Marlins star pitcher Jose Fernandez, who died in a horrible recreational boating accident when the 32-foot powerboat he was a passenger in crashed into a rocky jetty off Miami Beach. Fernandez’s two friends, Emilio Jesus Macias and Eduardo Rivero, both from Miami, also died as a result of the crash. The U.S. Coast Guard found their boat turned upside down on the north jetty of Government Cut,  a channel that connects the Atlantic Ocean into Biscayne Bay of Miami.

Although it had been reported that the boat was traveling at a high rate of speed, the accident that occurred at night has now resulted in a federal agency investigation into whether or not the jetty and surrounding areas should be better marked and lighted.

According to a Miami Herald article, the federal agency is sending out a survey to boaters asking their opinions about the sufficiency of the markings and lighting in the area. The protruded jetties are very difficult to observe at night time, and since the tragic death of Fernandez and his friends, several boaters have come forward and voiced concerns about the lack of lighting. Although there has been no reported deaths such as the three deaths in the Fernandez boat crash,  there have been other incidents involving close calls with the jetty.

baseballA baseball star, and soon-to-be father, 24-year-old Jose Fernandez, described as one of the best pitchers in Major League Baseball, lost his life due to a boating accident that occurred in Miami, Florida, on Sunday, September 25.

So far, reports indicated that the boat was traveling at a high rate of speed and hit the jetty rocks at Government Cut off of Miami Beach, causing the 32-foot Sea Vee Center Console Fishing Boat to flip over. Three bodies were recovered by the United States Coast Guard when they responded to reports of debris that was seen floating. Baseball star Fernandez is believed to have died from the impact of the crash, not from drowning. In a news release this afternoon, the Florida Fish & Wildlife Commission stated that Fernandez was the owner of the boat that crashed, killing him and two of his friends, Emilio Macias and Eduardo Rivero. The operator of the boat at the time of the crash is still under investigation.

It has been reported that it is difficult to see this jetty at night, which is low to the water. There is no lighting to identify it. However, the authorities have stated that the boat has been seen frequently traveling past this area.  Of course, at 3 AM, it is easy to lose your bearings, and at a high rate of speed there is even more of a chance of not observing the exact location of this jetty.

lifeboatThere is a big problem with rescue boats and lifeboats on board cruise ships. Although they are designed and intended to save lives, they too often result in losing lives due to mechanical failures. I previously reported about the tragic incident on the Norwegian Breakaway that occurred on July 20, 2016 in Bermuda. During a rescue boat drill on board the ship, the lifeboat broke from its tethering, falling into the sea. It has sadly been reported that another crew member, Ben Buenaventura of the Philippines, has died as a result of this tragic lifeboat accident. The crew member, after being in the intensive care at Jackson Memorial Hospital here in Miami Florida, passed away from his injuries.

The lifeboat on the Norwegian Breakaway crashed 50 feet from the upper deck into the seas. Under the maritime law, this constitutes unseaworthiness because obviously a rescue boat or lifeboat does not break away and fall 50 feet to the ocean if it is operated properly and in proper condition, unless there is a faulty design.

I have handled many of these types of lifeboat cases resulting in injuries that were not life-threatening, to catastrophic injuries such as paralysis, to cases resulting in death. These cases typically involve a life boat safety drill with crew members on board the life boats. However, these are the same boats that would be used to evacuate passengers in the case of a serious incident on board a cruise ship. Therefore, it is very alarming that there are so many reported accidents involving lifeboats and rescue boats on board cruises. There is clearly something wrong with the design of these boats, and the mechanisms utilized to lower and raise them. Of course, maintenance issues as well as procedure is often times an issue.

lifeboatI have previously written about lifeboat accidents, safety boat accidents, and other types of rescue boat accidents, occurring with frequency on cruise ships. The most recent catastrophe has occurred on Royal Caribbean’s brand-new mega cruise ship, Harmony of the Seas. Unfortunately, I have handled many of these type of cases ranging from minor injuries to fatalities, as well as cases where the accident resulted in paralysis. Other lifeboat and rescue boat accidents have resulted in serious physical and psychological injuries.

I have determined that these accidents are occurring because of the faulty designs of the major safety equipment, inadequate maintenance, and a lack of proper procedures for conducting the safety drills. We had previously written about Royal Caribbean’s Harmony of the Seas, the largest cruise ship in the world. It measures about the length of four football fields, and is longer than the height of the Eiffel Tower, carrying 6,780 passengers and 2,100 crew members.

Although this is a brand-new cruise ship, apparently the lifeboat failed during an attempted lifeboat safety drill, breaking loose from its apparatus, falling 33 feet (10 meters) into the sea, resulting in the death of one 42- year-old Filipino cruise ship crew member and four others catastrophically injured.

01 02 03 04 05 06