Articles Posted in Wrongful Deaths

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.

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.

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.

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.

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.

sunken shipThe events and the causes leading to the catastrophic sinking of the El Faro during Hurricane Joaquin on October 1, 2015, continue to be the focus of the National Transportation Safety Board (NTSB) as it begins its review of the voyage data recorder(VDR). El Faro was a United States cargo ship that sank last fall killing all 33 members on board. It has been considered the worst U.S. cargo shipping disaster in over 30 years.  The VDR, as it is referred to on ships, is a vessel’s black box investigators use for accident investigation after the fact. The VDR from El Faro was finally recovered from the ocean floor after 10 months of attempting to retrieve it.

According to reports, about 26 hours of information was able to be recovered from El Faro’s voyage data recorder. The VDR is going to provide very critical information, including the following: a discussion about the ship losing propulsion, a discussion between the crew and the master, Captain Michael Davidson, pertaining to the flooding, a discussion between the master and shoreside personal pertaining to the critical situation at hand, and the captain ordering the crew to abandon the ship.

lifeboatLifeboats are obviously designed to save lives, not to take lives. However, I have sadly represented numerous crew members who have been catastrophically injured or killed during a lifeboat or rescue boat safety drill, when the boat has broken from the wires lifting or lowering the boat, or there has been a failure of the mechanism used to lift and lower the boats.

The recent catastrophic incident happened on the Norwegian Breakaway, a Norwegian Cruise Line cruise ship. It is ironic that the name of this ship is Breakaway because the life boat broke away from its tethering and plummeted to the water. According to reports, on July 20, four male crew members were onboard a lifeboat during a routine safety drill when the boat fell into the water. The accident, which occurred  while the ship was docked in Bermuda, left all four crew members injured. One of the crew members, Diogenes Carpio, was found floating in the water with several broken bones. He passed away at the hospital shortly after. Exact details as to why this tragedy occurred are still unclear.

shipIt was on July 5, 2005 that George Smith IV disappeared during his honeymoon cruise with his new bride, Jennifer Hagel Smith.

The couple went on a Royal Caribbean cruise ship, the Brilliance of the Seas, for a honeymoon cruise. However, disaster struck. The couple met up with a group of passengers they started drinking with, and then mysteriously George Smith was discovered missing.

It was indeed strange and suspicious circumstances. Reports were that Jennifer and George had been drinking, and in fact George had consumed some very strong shots of Absinthe. It was reported Jennifer and George had an argument that evening.

What was discovered next is shocking. There was a report of arguing in the Smith cabin, as if fighting was going on. Sounds of furniture moving was heard by passengers in the next cabin. Reports of a struggle surfaced and security was called. However, security came and left and nothing was discovered at that time.

The next morning Jennifer, who had been taken back to the cabin sometime early in the am, and placed in the bed (she was discovered passed out somewhere else on the ship), and George was not there. Jennifer didn’t think much of George not being there and went to a beauty salon appointment that morning.
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deckI was saddened to learn of another tragic incident involving a drowning onboard a cruise ship. This particular drowning involved a 10 year old girl who was with her family onboard a Norwegian cruise ship, the Norwegian Gem, for what was supposed to be a fun filled vacation lasting 7 days. The cruise ship left from New York and was heading to Myrtle Beach at the time of the drowning.

Shipboard medical personnel was unable to resuscitate the 10 year old girl and she died onboard the cruise ship. What a tragic incident for the family! It’s hard to imagine going on a cruise and losing a loved one during the cruise. The exact circumstances surrounding the drowning are unknown at this time. However, there has been a lot of debate about whether lifeguards should be present at the pools on cruise ships. The major cruise ship companies do not utilize lifeguards. Disney Cruise Lines is the only cruise line company known to utilize lifeguards.

dark-waters-1255327Passenger from North Carolina falls on Carnival cruise ship by port of Miami and dies.

It has reported that a twenty year old male passenger on a Carnival cruise ship, the Carnival Ecstasy fell approximately 20 feet, or the equivalent of two decks of the ship, and died.