It was just a few days ago that our maritime lawyers discussed the risks of drowning and secondary drowning while engaging in any water-related activity, especially while on a cruise vacation. Aside from a few exceptions, like Disney Cruise Lines, the majority of cruise lines do not employ trained lifeguards, which means ship pools are not monitored by trained professionals. In fact, pools are seldom actually monitored by any cruise ship crew member. This means that on any given day, on any given ship, the dozens of people enjoying pool and Jacuzzi facilities may suffer a near-drowning or drowning accident and may not be rescued in time.
Unfortunately, this is a reality every cruise passenger can face. But while drowning accidents can happen to anyone, regardless of age, most victims are young children. In April of 2013, a four-year-old boy nearly drowned on board the Disney Fantasy. In February 2014, another four-year-old boy drowned and his six-year-old brother nearly drowned while on board the Norwegian Breakaway. And now, sadly, a third four-year-old boy was involved in a near-drowning accidents this weekend aboard Royal Caribbean’s Oasis of the Seas, leading us to wonder why in the world are cruise lines continuing to ignore the dire need to hire experienced lifeguards.
According to the latest news reports, the boy is in critical condition at the moment, receiving treatment at Broward Health Medical Center in Fort Lauderdale. The near-drowning accident happened roughly about an hour after the vessel set sail on a 7-day Western Caribbean itinerary on Saturday. The young victim was “swept under” a wave and submerged under water for anywhere between five to ten minutes while in the ship’s wave pool.
He was pulled from the water by a fellow swimmer, and did not have a pulse at the time. He was revived in the ship’s onboard medical facility after CPR and “aggressive advanced life support” treatments were undertaken.
Luckily, the vessel hadn’t gone too far and was turned around so the boy could obtain further medical treatment on land. After the boy was evacuated, the ship set sail once more around 10:45 PM and resumed its scheduled course.
It is not yet clear whether there was a lifeguard on duty at the time of the incident. Lifeguards can sense immediate danger and monitor those in the water closely for any signs of trouble. It only takes a split second to become submerged and inhale water, leading to severe lung and brain trauma – if not death. The longer a victim is submerged, the more critical the situation becomes.
Sadly, many cruise lines would rather invest their resources in entertainment and activities that will turn a profit than on safety, and it seems that no matter how many cruise ship drownings and near-drownings occur, the majority of cruise lines turn their heads the other way and continue to fail to provide optimal onboard safety for passengers.
Our prayers are with the boy and his family during this tragic time and we hope for the best outcome possible.