Our maritime lawyers have filed a lawsuit against Royal Caribbean Cruise Lines seeking punitive damages based on the near drowning of a 4-year-old boy at a “kid friendly” swimming pool aboard the Oasis of the Seas. The lawsuit is based on the grounds that Royal Caribbean is responsible for the incident due to the fact that the cruise line knowingly and intentionally failed to place lifeguards at its “kid friendly” swimming pools.
The cruise ship near drowning accident occurred earlier this year in January roughly an hour after the vessel set sail on a 7-day Western Caribbean itinerary. The boy was in one of the ship’s wave pools when he was swept under a wave. He remained submerged beneath the water anywhere between five to ten minutes before he was pulled out, not by a lifeguard or even one of the ship’s crew members, but by another passenger.
When he was pulled from the pool, the boy did not have a pulse. He was immediately administered CPR and then taken to the vessel’s onboard medical facility, where he was miraculously revived. Fortunately, the ship hadn’t sailed very far and was able to turn around quickly so the boy could obtain treatment on land. He was transported to the Broward Health Medical Center in Fort Lauderdale in critical condition, and the ship continued on its planned itinerary as if nothing had happened.
Sadly, this is just one of several cruise ship drowning accidents that have transpired throughout the years. Even more frightening, many of the victims are young children, like this young boy. Thankfully, this boy survived, but many others aren’t as fortunate.
Just last week, we discussed the tragic drowning death of an 8-year-old boy aboard the Liberty of the Seas ship – another Royal Caribbean vessel. Yet, despite the fact that cruise ship drownings and near drownings have already transpired aboard RCCL vessels, the cruise line STILL hasn’t decided to hire trained lifeguards to monitor their pools. In fact, they don’t even assign regular crew members to keep watch over passengers. Instead, those using onboard pool facilities are basically warned to “swim at their own risk.”
The issue surrounding the lack of lifeguards on cruise ships is a topic our maritime lawyers have discussed extensively. In fact, our maritime attorney, Michael Winkleman, was interviewed in an episode of The Today Show just a short time following the near-drowning of the 4-year-old boy that our firm is representing.
While many victims are children, adults can also become the victims of a cruise ship drowning. No one is immune to these kinds of accidents, whether they are excellent swimmers or not. A drowning can also happen in shallower waters. Take, for instance, the drowning death of 41-year-old 1985 MOVE Bombing survivor, Michael Ward (aka Birdie Africa) in a Carnival Dream hot tub.
It is absolutely imperative that lifeguards be present near ALL bodies of water, be it a pool, hot tub, ocean, or lake. It only takes a few minutes for a death to result from the inhalation of water. The brain begins to fail after four minutes of being submerged due to the deprivation of oxygen. Those who do survive can be left with extensive and permanent brain damage, not to mention severe lung and esophageal scarring. Given these facts, it is truly a miracle that the 4-year-old boy is still alive.
Lifeguards are trained to notice the signs of a potential drowning situation, and can quickly rescue the victim and perform CPR and other emergency procedures before it’s too late. Still, the vast majority of cruise lines do not have any lifeguards on board. And, until they do so, this leaves the door open for several more drownings and near-drownings to occur.