Last weekend, on Saturday morning, June 30, at roughly 9AM EST, the engines of a 40-foot chartered tour boat (operated by Four C’s Adventures) exploded and the boat was engulfed in flames, killing one passenger and injuring nine others. The boat had been chartered for a day trip near Exuma Island, a popular tourist destination in the Bahamas. It is believed that the all of the passengers aboard the subject vessel were hotel guests at the Sandals Resort.
According to reports, only 12 passengers were aboard the tour boat at the time of the explosion. Amidst the screams of terror and howls of pain, passengers from nearby tour boats sprang into action and helped rescue the injured. US Coast Guard responded to the accident swiftly, airlifting four of the injured tour boat passengers to a hospital in Florida, while an EMS Air Ambulance transported many of the remaining injured passengers to Princess Margaret Hospital in Nassau.
Passengers reportedly observed noises emitting from the engines before the explosion and resultant fire.
We are saddened to hear about this unfortunate shore excursion tour boat accident. Given the severity of the accident, the consequences on the lives of those affected are dire — in fact, many of the injuries are catastrophic in nature. Among the injured are Tiran Jackson and his wife, Maleka Jackson, who were celebrating their 15th wedding anniversary with a short trip. Maleka died in the explosion, while Tiran is in critical condition.
Another passenger, 22-year-old dancer, Stefanie Schaffer, was severely injured in the explosion, leading to a double leg amputation. She was on the boat tour with her sister Brooke Schaffer and her mother and stepfather Stacey and Paul Bender.
At this time, the cause of the engine failure has not yet been determined, though the Royal Bahamas Police Force investigation of the incident is ongoing. This excursion provider is known to operate one of the largest excursion operations in the Bahamas. On its face, it is clear that there must have been negligence by the tour operator which caused or contributed to this incident.
Our law firm has handled, and is currently handling, several nearly identical shore excursion injury cases. Often times referred to as ‘resort tort’ cases, these cases typically involve hotel guests staying at a foreign hotel where they are grievously injured. Because the injury is located in a foreign location, these preventable tragedies are made all the more difficult when the foreign hotel attempts to force a U.S. resident to have to sue in the location of the incident, such as the Bahamas. Fortunately, we are very experienced in navigating our way through and over the various legal hurdles in order to obtain justice in cases like this.
Vessels Must Be Regularly Inspected and Maintained
Boat operators — whether the vessel is categorized as a large cruise ship, a ferry, or a smaller boat, as in the present case — have a duty to maintain their vessels in reasonably safe condition for passengers.
Though we do not currently have all the facts pertaining to the engine failure at-issue in the present case, there is no question that this tragedy was a preventable one. With proper inspection and maintenance, incidents like this simply should not occur.
Of course, boat operators are not the only potentially liable parties. If the engine explosion occurred due to some latent product defect, then injured passengers would have a significant product liability claim against the engine manufacturer.
We Can Provide Assistance
If you or a loved one has been injured (or killed) in a tour boat accident, then you may have the right to bring an action against the boat operator and secure compensatory damages to account for your losses. Litigating a claim against the boat operator is extremely complicated and requires the knowledge and experience of an Admiralty & Maritime attorney.
Here at Lipcon, Margulies & Winkleman, P.A., our attorneys have over a century of combined experience representing injured passengers in a range of maritime accident scenarios, from cruise ship collisions, to smaller tour boat incidents, to ferry grounding accidents. Our singular focus is on maritime and admiralty claims, and as a result, we are capable of developing an airtight case strategy and handling any unexpected challenges during litigation.
If you’d like to learn more, we encourage you to contact an experienced maritime lawyer at Lipcon for assistance. We look forward to speaking with you further.