Tragedy has struck the cruise industry once more, as another cruise ship passenger has been involved in an accident on the high seas. This time, the incident is all the more disturbing and disheartening, as the victim is only four years old.
Authorities have reported that a four-year-old boy has been airlifted to Arnold Palmer Hospital for Children in Orlando on Saturday after being pulled from a pool on the Disney Fantasy cruise ship.
Brevard County and Disney rescue workers were called to the Disney Fantasy at 3:30 PM EDT after ship officials reported a potential drowning at the family pool, one of three pools onboard the vessel. The little boy’s family had just boarded the ship for a seven-day cruise to the western Caribbean, never imagining that their young son would be in danger.
The boy’s name has not been revealed to the public for privacy reasons, nor have the names of his parents. He was discovered unresponsive in the pool while the ship was briefly docked at Port Canaveral.
It was reported that Disney crewmembers gave the boy medical attention onboard and then paramedics transported him to Cape Canaveral Hospital. The boy was later flown by medical helicopter to Arnold Palmer Hospital.
Reports say the boy had a pulse at the time he was transported to the hospital but his condition was unknown as of late Saturday.
According to witnesses on Disney message boards online, the child’s parents were not in the pool when the near-cruise ship drowning accident occurred, but ran over to the boy while emergency rescuers worked on him.
“They both nearly collapsed,” wrote one witness on the message board.
The parents of the young victim and two other children left the ship in their bathing suits as the boy was taken off the ship.
The cruise then continued on its scheduled itinerary, leaving Port Canaveral 45 minutes late at 5:45 PM.
The exact circumstances surrounding the boy’s accident have yet to be released.
Cruise ships have a duty under the General Maritime Laws of the United States to offer a safe environment onboard for all guests. In order to fulfill this duty, a reasonable cruise line under the circumstances should have lifeguards on duty or at least a crewmember near the pool area to monitor pool activity. This is particularly the case, when many of the ship’s guests are young children
It was reported that Disney issued the following statement regarding the incident:
“We’re focused on assisting the family,” said Disney spokeswoman Rena Langley. “Clearly, our thoughts are with them at this difficult time.”
This tragic cruise ship accident marks the second incident reported this month involving a drowning on Disney Resort grounds. Earlier this month, a 13-year-old boy died two days after being pulled from a swimming pool at Disney’s Pop Century Resort.
According to witnesses, the victim, Anthony Johnson, had been playing in the Hippy Dippy pool with his relatives on March 10 when he disappeared under the water. The teen’s cousin pulled him out of the water after finding him at the bottom of the pool unresponsive just after 9 PM. The child’s father and other guests at the Resort immediately began administering CPR as emergency crews were called to the scene.
Johnson was transported to Florida Hospital Celebration Health where he died two days later.
Lifeguards are on duty at the Resort’s pool, but only between the hours of 10 AM and 8 PM. Signs are posted around the pool area that guests will be swimming at their own risk after hours.
It was reported that Disney also issued the following statement regarding the Johnson drowning incident:
“We are saddened by Anthony Johnson’s passing and our hearts go out to his family, friends and loved ones. We have reached out to his family to offer care and assistance during this difficult time,” said the company.
In the end, both of these tragedies remind us that accidents on the high seas can occur at any time, regardless of what cruise line is involved and whether the ship is sailing in international waters or is docked at a U.S. port.
It is important for all the victims of cruise ship accidents to know that they have a right to consult with a cruise ship accident lawyer whenever tragedy strikes and may be entitled to compensation for their pain and suffering.
Cruise companies are required to provide all guests (and crew) with a safe environment onboard and when that safety is compromised, the company may be found at least partially liable for the incident.