Terrible news from Exuma.
Saturday, June 30, 2018 a tour boat exploded just off Barraterre Island with ten passengers aboard and two crewmen. This was a 40-foot open-style vessel with twin outboards. The US Coast Guard air evacuated several of the injured passengers to Bayfront Medical Center in St. Petersburg. The vessel had pulled close to the island to see the somewhat infamous swimming pigs which swim in the crystalline Bahamian waters from the island.
At this point there is no conclusion made as to the cause of the blast. There is one confirmed casualty and another passenger had tremendous physical injury resulting in amputations of her legs.
There can be several causes in boat explosions like these and more information is needed. It is not yet clear if the vessel was running at the time of the explosion—or as is more common in vessel explosions—whether the vessel was being started at the time of the explosion. Fuel containers have two basic formats on a vessel of this size and style. They are typically built into the hull of the vessel, or they are placed above-deck near the rear of the vessel in some form of enclosure. It is not likely—due to the size of the outboards demonstrated in photographs and video—that the fuel container was a temporary carry-on type used on smaller vessels.
Explosions are not uncommon on vessels. Many times explosions occur when the operator begins to start the vessel. Unlike fuel lines on automobiles, fuel lines on vessels can be relatively exposed and therefore become damaged. Another possibility is that fuel tanks built into the deck of a vessel can crack, or the filler necks, or concealed fuel lines leading to the fuel tank connectors can become compromised.
It is also possible that the outboard engine itself developed a problem, caught fire or exploded, and caused an explosion with the greater fuel supply.
The photos available show the vessel burned down to the waterline and the vessel is just a bare shell. Investigators—both governmental and non-governmental–will be assigned to determine the cause of the casualty. In cases like these it is not unusual for an insurer to claim that the vessel operator had no knowledge of the condition which caused the explosion. It is a very common occurrence for marine insurers to deny claims based upon “lack of knowledge” or some other “exclusion” in an insurance policy.
In cases such as these the families are well advised to pursue such cases quickly. The evidence is going to be compromised. The witnesses are going to be influenced by insurers seeking favorable statements for the insurer. Experts need to be hired to examine available evidence before it is altered or is disposed. The key to pursuing a recovery for injured or deceased victims in maritime cases like this is to act quickly with the knowledge on how to proceed, and the expertise to know the maritime law.
MARITIME ATTORNEYS FOR 25 YEARS.