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June 28, 2015

Eight Holland American Line Cruise Passengers Tragically Die While on an Alaskan Shore Excursion Sight-Seeing Tour


Eight Holland American Line cruise ship passengers tragically died on Thursday, June 25, 2015 when a DeHavilland DHC-3 Otter float plane crashed, some 25 miles northeast of Ketchikan, Alaska. The crash occurred at approximately 2:00 p.m., at about 800 feet above a lake in the Misty Fjords area. Onboard the sightseeing flight at the time of the crash were the eight cruise passengers plus the pilot. Despite some investigation by authorities, the cause of the horrible crash into a cliff has not yet been identified. Alaska State Troopers, however, have identified the victims as: Hal Cheney, 71 and Mary Doucette, 59, both of Lodi, California; Glenda Cambiaso, 31 and Hugo Cambiaso, 65, both of North Potomac, Maryland; June Kranenburg, 73 and Leonard Kranenburg, 63, both of Medford, Oregon; Margie Apodaca, 63 and Raymond Apodaca, 70, both of Sparks, Nevada; and the pilot, Bryan Krill, 64, of Hope, Idaho.

All eight passengers were sailing on the MS Westerdam, a Holland American cruise ship that departed Seattle, Washington on Saturday, June 20, 2015 for a seven-day round-trip cruise. News outlets have reported that the sightseeing airplane ride was a shore excursion sold through the cruise line Holland American Line. The actual float plane is owned by a company named Promech Air, self-identified as the largest "air taxi" operating in southeast Alaska for 30 years. According to the Alaska Dispatch News, just two years ago in 2013, another Promech Air float plane crashed on Prince of Wales Island, injuring four people. It is unknown whether Holland American Line was aware of this prior incident.

Generally, shore excursions sold through a cruise line contain exculpatory clauses that purport to relieve a cruise line and/or a shoreside excursion company from any liability resulting from an accident or injury that may occur during a shoreside excursion. While narrow and unambiguous exculpatory clauses have been enforced by certain courts in favor of cruise lines and shore excursion operators, cruise lines may still be held responsible for the negligent selection of a shore excursion company. We will continue to follow the investigation into this devastating crash, including whether Holland American Line was aware of Promech Air's prior incident but nevertheless continued to offer and sell the company's tours to its cruise ship passengers.

Our deepest sympathies and condolences go out to the families of the crash victims.

ADDITIONAL RESOURCES:

http://www.cnn.com/2015/06/26/us/alaska-plane-crash/

http://www.seattletimes.com/nation-world/plane-missing-in-alaska-with-nine-on-board/

May 18, 2015

Girl Drowns in NCL Cruise Ship Pool

Norwegian Gem Pool.jpgTragedy has struck. It is being reported that a 10-year-girl has drown in one of the swimming pools aboard the NCL operated Norwegian Gem cruise ship. Coast Guard Spokesperson, Nate Littlejohn, stated the cruise ship was 75 miles off the coast of Myrtle Beach, South Carolina, when the girl drowned. The ship's medical staff administered CPR, but the girl could not be revived, according to the statement released by Norwegian Cruise Lines. The Norwegian Gem was on a seven day voyage from New York to Florida and the Bahamas. The Coast Guard is investigating the death.

We have written extensively on aquatic safety not only aboard cruise ships but at resorts and sadly our attorneys represented families of drowning victims. Often times we have proven that pool drowning deaths are 100% preventable. There is no reason why many cruise lines do not staff their ships with life guard and do not have childproof barriers. Such safety precautions are uniformly followed by shore side resorts. These precautions are relatively inexpensive and save lives.

We invite you to read our other articles about pool safety.

Toddler's Pool-Drowning Underscores Need for Pool Safety Procedures (Published on Apr. 30, 2015)

Two Passenger Drowning Incidents Occur at Disney's Castaway Cay (Published on Mar.6, 2015)

Boy Who Nearly Drowned Aboard a Royal Caribbean Cruise Ship Left in Critical Condition (Published on Jan. 6, 2015)

Five South Florida Drownings in Three Weeks (Published on Oct. 19, 2014)

Boy Found on Bottom of Royal Caribbean Cruise Ship Fights for Life (Published on May 31, 2014)

Child Drowns in NCL Ship's Pool (Published on Feb. 4, 2014)

Florida Boy Drowns in Carnival Cruise Ship's Pool (Published on Oct. 15, 2013)

Judge Rules Sandals Resorts & Pool Component Manufacturers Must Stand Trial in Miami, Florida for Bahamas Entrapment Drowning Death (Published Mar. 27, 2013)

March 28, 2015

Royal Caribbean Cruise Passenger Feared Dead

Liberty of the Seas Accident Attorney.bmpThe Coast Guard has called off its search for Frank Slippo, a Royal Caribbean cruise passenger, who fell overboard the Liberty of the Seas. CCTV cameras confirm that the 43-year-old Slippo climbed over the railing at around 9:00pm last Sunday before falling off the cruise ship. The Liberty of the Seas was approximately 20 miles off the Florida Keys when the incident happened. As required by maritime law, Royal Caribbean began a search and rescue mission once it was confirmed the passenger fell overboard. Coast Guard Sector Key West was notified and conducted a 1,734 square nautical mile search lasting more the 57 hours. Slippo is feared dead.

March 18, 2015

Passenger Falls Off Galveston Based Cruise Ship

Carnival Triumph.jpgMultiple media sources are reporting that a passenger is believed to have died after falling off a Galveston based cruise ship operated by Carnival. On the evening of March 17, 2015 shipboard personnel aboard the Triumph were notified that a 57-year-old passenger fell overboard while the ship was off the northern coast of Mexico. CCTV video confirmed the passenger fell overboard. Cruise lines have a duty under maritime law to perform a search and rescue mission once it becomes known that someone, whether that person is a passenger or crew member, has fallen overboard. It is reported that the ship notified Mexican authorities and initiated a search and rescue operation. The next morning Mexican authorities found a body believed to be the passenger who fell off the cruise ship. The Triumph was returning to Galveston from a five day Mexican cruise.

March 8, 2015

Barge Sinks in Ft. Pierce Inlet Drowning Deckhand

A 100 foot barge built in 1957 sunk in the Ft. Pierce Inlet drowning a deckhand. The barge was being towed by a 54-foot Gulfstream from Key Biscayne to Georgia. The towing operation was performed by Reed Adams, Charles Griffin, Rodney Grambo and Dominick Tortorice. The decision to attempt the inlet was made when the barge began to take on water offshore. The fast outgoing tide through the inlet proved too much and the half century old barge causing it to break up and sank. Unfortunately, Tortorice did not make it off the barge in time. Reed Adam told media that the barge's superstructure collapsed on Tortorice moments before the vessel when down. Tortorice's body was later found offshore. Authorities suspect the outgoing tide carried his body away from the accident scene.

Ft. Pierce Inlet was closed after the event as the Coast Guard feared other boats may strike the sunken barge causing additional accidents. The inlet has been since reopened to recreational boats with drafts less than six feet upon clearance from an official managing vessel traffic in the area.

The barge has been reported to be in two pieces and has created a debris filed in and around the inlet. Given the swift current in Ft. Pierce Inlet, the depth where the barge sank and its weaken condition, Coast Guard indicated it will be difficult to remove the wreck. The salvage operation is being performed by Resolve Marine Group based out of Ft. Lauderdale. No time table has been set for when the barge will be removed and the inlet completely reopened.

A tug and barge owner owes the deckhands working for it the legal duty to provide a vessel that is seaworthy and reasonably fit for its intended purpose. Should a deckhand become injured or die as a result of an unseaworthy barge, maritime law allows the seaman or his estate to recover certain money damages. The amount of damages depend on the circumstances.

February 15, 2015

Costa Concordia Captain Found Guilty of Manslaughter of 32 Cruise Passengers

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On February 11, 2015, an Italian three-judge panel found Captain Francesco Schettino guilty of manslaughter of 32 cruise ship passengers traveling aboard the Costa Concordia off the Italian Coast on January 13, 2012. The panel's rulings include guilty verdicts on other charges in connection with the shipwreck, including personal injury to passengers and the Captain's abandoning of the cruise ship. Captain Schettino was sentenced to 16 years prison time. One of the most alarming allegations asserted at the Captain's trial was that the Captain deserted the ship before cruise passengers and crewmembers got off the ship. According to Prosecutor Alessandro Leopizzi, the Captain safely made his way to land "without even getting his feet wet".

During the trial, testimony was presented emphasizing alleged crew errors and equipment malfunctions during the frenzied period surrounding the shipwreck. Equipment malfunctions allegedly included failure of an emergency diesel generator, elevators' failure to shut down during the shipwreck and language barriers with the ship's crew, some of which barely spoke English.

Continue reading "Costa Concordia Captain Found Guilty of Manslaughter of 32 Cruise Passengers " »

February 6, 2015

Hollywood Man Dies When Boat Overturned Off Fort Lauderdale

76-year-old German Diaz of Hollywood, Florida has died when the 16 foot boat he and family members were aboard overturned in bad weather. The accident happened on February 4th just off the coast of Fort Lauderdale. Reports state Diaz and four member of his family were fishing when the weather conditions deteriorated. They tied the boat to a buoy to ride out the storm. When they tried to untie the line, it got tangled with the propeller causing the boat because to take on water before overturning. Everyone in the group were able to hold onto the overturned boat except Diaz. Divers ultimately found Diaz trapped under the boat wearing his life jacket.

November 30, 2014

Rescue Mission Ends for Missing Princess Cruise Passenger

Sun Princess Cruise Ship.jpgAustralian authorities call off a search for an elderly man who fell off and went missing from the Princess cruise ship Sun Princess. CCTV footage retained by the cruise line shows an 84-year-old passenger falling of the liner into the water on the night of November 24th. Princess stated the cruise ship turned around to look for the missing passenger after the man could not be found on board. The Australian Maritime Safety Authority stated survival was very slim given the man's age and weather conditions. This is not the first time in recent memory that a passenger fell off the Sun Princess. In October last year another elderly man went missing from the deck of the ship while it was off the northern Australian coast.

July 9, 2014

Miami Boat Accidents and a Little Known Law

Miami Boating Accident Lawyer.jpgBoat accidents are nothing new in Miami. Sun, fun, inexperienced operators and alcohol all play a role in both recent and past boating tragedies. After such horrific events there is a public outcry for more law enforcement and tougher laws aimed to prevent more injuries and deaths. This is a normal and well intended reaction. However, flying under the radar from public scrutiny is an over 150-year-old Federal law that allows boat owners, or should it be said the boat owners' insurance companies, the ability to limit the amount of money damages paid to the victims of the boat accidents to the post-loss value of the vessels. This law, known as the Limitation of Liability Act, can be devastating to an already overwhelming situation. Imagine a situation where a boat passenger who one minute was enjoying a holiday weekend and the next cannot walk or the children left parentless after the accident. This statute allows the boat owners to ask a Federal judge to limit the amount they must compensate these victims to a few thousand dollars or less.

Continue reading "Miami Boat Accidents and a Little Known Law" »

May 27, 2014

Weston Woman Killed in Boating Collision Near Elliot Key

Multiple news agencies are reporting on a fatal boating accident that occurred near Elliot Key late Sunday (May 25, 2014). The incident occurred between 10:30 and 11:30 p.m. when a 23' boat collided with larger 36' anchored vessel. Giovanna Patricia Santos of Weston, Florida and two men were aboard the 23' boat. The collision was so traumatic that Santos was airlifted to Ryder Trauma Center at Jackson Memorial Hospital and the men were airlifted to Kendall Regional hospital with serious injuries. Tragically Ms. Santos died from her injuries.

The operator of the boat, Felipe Escobar, is suspected of boating under the influence. Jorge Pino of Florida's Fish and Wildlife Commission stated, "Our investigators felt that there was enough probable cause based on the odor of alcohol that was coming from the operator's person for us to do a forced blood draw on him." The toxicology results are pending.

The two people aboard the anchored 36' boat vessel were sleeping at the time of the accident and weren't injured. Investigator found the anchored boat was properly lit.

WSVN-TV - 7NEWS Miami Ft. Lauderdale News, Weather, Deco

March 26, 2014

Brais, Brais & Rusak Files Wrongful Death Lawsuit on Behalf of Florida Deckhand's Family

Shaun Cheney.jpgThe Florida maritime attorneys of Brais, Brais & Rusak brought a wrongful death lawsuit on behalf of a family whose loved one drown after falling overboard from the tug boat. On the morning of September 13, 2013, Shaun Cheney was preparing the tugboat Brittany Beyel and barge for a crossing to the Bahamas. As part of his duties, Shaun was required to participate in the repositioning of the tug and barge from the Beyel Brothers' Merritt Island facility across the Canaveral Barge Canal. While crossing the canal, it was noticed that Shaun was missing. He was last seen by a fellow deckhand securing a line to a stern cleat. Although being aware Shaun was missing, the decision was made to first dock the tug before starting a search and rescue mission. When the search of the area did occur, Shaun could not be found despite being a good swimmer. Tragically, Shaun's body was found on the bottom of the canal the next afternoon.

Beyel Brothers Accident Lawyer.gifMarine employees are protected by the federal Jones Act and maritime law for the negligent acts and unseaworthiness of the vessel they are tasked to work aboard. Under this law, Shaun's employer, Beyel Brothers, was required to develop safety protocols, post a lookout to alert the captain and crew of an accident, have a sufficient amount of life vests aboard the vessel and immediately effect a search of the area when it becomes known that crew member fell overboard. Based upon our investigation, Beyel Brothers failed to comply with the law. Maritime law recognizes seamen work is hard and often times dangerous. As such, unlike land-based law, marine employers are liable no matter how slight the connection between the wrongful act and death of a worker.

If you have information about this tragedy, we like to hear from you to better assist Shaun's family. You may call us toll free at (800) 499-0551 or click this link to write to us.

February 6, 2014

Holland American Cruise Passenger Dies after Accidental Fall

Holland American Trip Injury Lawyer.jpgA Hawaiian medical examiner ruled the death of a passenger who fell aboard a Holland American cruise ship an accident. James Harte of Salt Lake City, Utah died last week at hospital in Oahu, Hawaii four days after falling aboard the Veendam cruise ship. The autopsy revealed the fall caused a cranial cerebral injury which resulted in the passenger's death. No foul play is suspected. It is unknown at this time what caused the man to fall or the area of the cruise ship the accident took place. The Veendam is currently making Panama Canal crossings between San Diego, California and Ft. Lauderdale, Florida.

January 7, 2014

Princess Cruise Worker Falls off the Grand Princess

Fall on Grand Princess.jpgThe Coast Guard reports a worker for Princess Cruise Lines has fallen off the Grand Princess cruise ship. The 34-year-old Filipino national was last seen Monday alive Monday night at 10:25 and is said to have gone overboard later that night or early Tuesday morning. The Coast Guard was notified and preformed a search along with the cruise ship and nearby cargo vessel. At this time, he has not been found. The cruise line claims the on board CCTV footage shows the crew member jumping off the ship. The Grand Princess was on a 15 day Hawaiian cruise leaving from San Francisco, California.

This instance is the latest in a recent rash of people falling from cruise ships. The Maritime Law Blog has previously reported on a 26-year-old man fell off the Royal Caribbean Adventure of the Seas on December 28th, a 65-year-old man fell off the Royal Caribbean Independence of the Seas on December 31st, a 88-year-old passenger fell off the Holland America Veendam on January 3rd. If you know anything about these incidents, feel free to contact us or leave a comment.

January 7, 2014

Canadian Passenger Falls off Holland America Cruise Ship

Fall on Veendam.jpgA Canadian passenger has fallen off the Holland America cruise ship Veendam last Friday. Reports state the 2,000 passenger Veendam was 300 miles off the San Diego, California coast when a woman was spotted going over the side. The rescue searchers ultimately located the passenger but it was too late. The Medical Examiner ruled the death as suicide. However, the ABC television news station in San Diego interviewed a witness who claims he observed the passenger on her balcony leaning over the rail to jump, but when she turned around to go back inside, she slipped and fell. The Holland American cruise ship was on a 7 day Mexican Rivera cruise. The name of the passenger has not been released. This is third incident in three weeks of a Canadian passenger falling off a cruise ship. The Maritime Law Blog has previously reported a 26-year-old man fell off the Royal Caribbean Adventure of the Seas on December 28th and a 65-year-old man fell off the Royal Caribbean Independence of the Seas on December 31st. If you have any information about these deaths, feel free to contact us or leave a comment.

January 2, 2014

Police Fear Another Canadian Cruise Passenger has Fallen Off a Royal Caribbean Ship

Passenger Accident Independence of the Seas.jpgJust 5 days after Canadian passenger Tien Phuoc Nguyen reportedly fell off the Adventure of the Seas, there are news reports of a second Canadian tourist has fallen off a Royal Caribbean Cruise ship.

Cayman Islands police have issued a statement that they suspect a 65-year-old Canadian man may have fallen off the Independence of the Seas cruise ship. The missing passenger's wife told investigators that the couple went to bed around 1 a.m. but when she woke up 6 hours later, the man vanished. The 15 deck, 1,112 foot long Independence of the Seas was searched and the on board CCTV video was reviewed. Unfortunately, it could not be determined what happened to the passenger and the investigation continues. Police suspect that the accident happened while the ship was approaching Grand Cayman. The Cayman Port Authority has requested all marine traffic be on the lookout for the missing passenger. The Independence of the Seas was on a 6 night voyage leaving from Ft. Lauderdale, Florida.