American woman killed after a tourist boat sinks in Bahamas

Chaos broke out on a sinking double decker vessel, that left one woman dead

Amelia Neath
Thursday 16 November 2023 16:51 GMT
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Passenger recalls moment people started jumping as Bahamas ferry sank

One person has died after a double-decker tourist boat started to sink near Blue Lagoon Island in the Bahamas on Tuesday, according to reports.

A 74-year-old Colorado woman was killed, and two other people have been hospitalised after choppy waters started sinking the large boat carrying more than 100 people.

Just before 11am on Tuesday, the Royal Bahamas Police Force was notified of a distressed double-deck passenger boat shuttling tourists from Paradise Island to Blue Lagoon Island, according to a press release obtained by NBC.

While the police and marine support units helped rescue the passengers from the sinking vessel, they found an “unresponsive” woman, who was retrieved from the water, and CPR was performed, the release reportedly continued.

The publicly unidentified woman was taken to Paradise Island Dock, where emergency responders found “no signs of life.”

Chief Superintendent Chrislyn Skippings told The Associated Press that the woman, from Broomfield, Colorado, was on a five-day vacation with her family when disaster struck the catamaran.

Local newspaper, the Nassau Guardian, said they arrived at the scene once passengers were on shore to find that “the woman’s covered body was lying on the vessel that was used for the rescue, and her husband was crouched over her with his head down caressing her.”

Passengers started to jump into the water after the alleged lack of instructions from the crew

A video posted by Kelly Schissel, who was amongst the many tourists who found themselves on the sinking vessel that morning, shows the panic and chaos that ensued while onboard.

In a video that gained 18.9 million views on TikTok, Ms Schissel can be heard saying, “Our boat is sinking, so that’s fun; everybody’s freaking out,” as the camera pans to show the boat tilting heavily to one side.

In the footage, tourists can be heard screaming in distress, many on the tipped-up side of the boat clinging onto poles while the boat slants into the water.

One man is eventually seen jumping into the water with a lifejacket on, prompting many other passengers to follow him.

In a subsequent video, Ms Schissel alleges that there was no order on the boat, as the crew were too panicked to instruct others what to do.

“We started to stop and turn in to go to the Blue Lagoon area; I thought the captain was trying to be silly and whip the [boat] because we all went forward,” she said initially, not thinking anything of the turbulence.

“Then one of the crew members that was downstairs ran upstairs and was crying, freaking out, absolutely balling, grabbing a life jacket,” she continued.

She said that she and the other passengers started putting on their life jackets, but most remained on board initially as they “were waiting for the staff to tell us what to do, which they never did because they were too busy crying or freaking out.”

Becky and Matt Savage, two other passengers on board, told ABC News that they were on the boat with their two sons and also claimed there was no regulation amid the emergency.

Passengers clung on for dear life as the boat started to sink

"[A] passenger yelled, "Lifejackets!" and then chaos broke out," Ms Savage said.

"The lifejackets on the upper deck where we were were not right above us. They were in a bin at the front at the top of the boat, so everyone just smashed towards the front."

When the double-decker vessel started to sink, Ms Schissel said there was only one boat nearby, but the crew’s alleged silence prompted passengers to jump into the water.

Despite the clear skies, Ms Schissel said they landed into “pretty rough waves.”

Several lifeguards and rescue boats came out to the distressed vessel, and along with other nearby boats, the passengers made it to shore on Blue Lagoon Island.

Ms Schissel said they were given spare t-shirts, shoes, food and water, but were transported back to the island they came from on another boat without stopping to tour Blue Lagoon Island after the traumatising ordeal.

Police said that the Royal Bahamas Defense Force also helped with the rescue and nearby pleasure craft.

Authorities said the investigation is ongoing.

The Independent has contacted the Royal Bahamas Police Force for further information.

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