Articles Posted in Wrongful Death

Last month, our Florida cruise ship accident attorneys discussed some of the negative aspects of the ever-increasing size of cruise ships, including the fact that such megaships, by their very nature, have many more areas in which a passenger can become injured.  As mentioned in that post, with more entertainment venues comes a greater risk of injury to passengers, especially when cruises feature options such as on-board surfing and giant waterslides.  Some ships have several gigantic pools that too often go unsupervised by lifeguards.

One of the megaships that features such water entertainment options is the Carnival ship Victory, which is 893 feet long and has a capacity for 3,400 passengers and 1,000 crew members. The Victory has three large pools, all that include whirlpools, and a 214-foot-long waterslide. With such a massive amount of space to be supervised, it is no surprise that tragedy struck the Victory when 6-year-old Qwentyn Hunter of Winter Garden, Florida, drowned in one of the pools aboard the ship where no life guards were on duty.

According to a recent CNN story, Hunter was spotted underwater in a mid-ship pool by passengers as the ship was completing the final leg of a four-day journey. A ship DJ saw Hunter struggling in the water and another passenger guest then jumped into the pool to pull the boy out.  A crew member attempted to revive the unconscious boy, but was unsuccessful and he was pronounced dead shortly after.

Several weeks after the disappearance of her daughter from Bahamas-bound cruise ship Allure of the Seas, a grief-stricken mother retained Florida legal counsel to gather facts and ask tough questions of Royal Caribbean International, the ship’s owner. Shortly after the ship left Port Everglades on September 16, Vera Marion’s daughter Ariel fell overboard under as-yet undetermined circumstances. A U.S. Coast Guard effort to find her was discontinued on September 18th. According to an October 3 report in the Sun-Sentinel, when Ariel joined her mother on the cruise from which she would never return, Ariel was happily anticipating the start of a new modeling job that she had just landed.

Vera Marion has since shared with NBC South Florida her conviction that had cruise ship personnel acted promptly on the initial report of Ariel’s fall, Ariel could have been rescued. According to reports, Royal Caribbean International has, in fact, admitted that after ship officials received an urgent call from a passenger who witnessed the fall, instead of undertaking rescue efforts, ship’s security proceeded to take over an hour to review surveillance video for evidence of what had already been reported reliably. Making matters worse, according to the U.S. Coast Guard, it was not notified of the incident until over two hours after Ariel was seen tumbling into the ocean, and for all this time, the Allure of the Seas was sailing full-steam ahead, away from the location of Ariel’s disappearance. Eventually, the Allure of the Seas was stopped and turned around, and the Coast Guard and three nearby ships undertook a search, but these belated gestures were to no avail.

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MIAMI, FL—A Los Angeles man who murdered his wife aboard a Carnival cruise ship in July 2009 was sentenced to life in prison in San Diego court on Dec. 8. According to information provided by the Associated Press, the 57-year-old defendant pleaded guilty to second-degree murder charges in connection with the cruise ship slaying.

U.S. Chief District Judge Irma Gonzalez sentenced Robert McGill to life in prison after he confessed to killing his wife, Shirley while aboard the Carnival Elation cruise ship.

Reports indicated that McGill and his wife initially embarked on a 5-day cruise voyage to Cabo San Lucas—located in the Baja California peninsula of Mexico—as a means of celebrating his birthday. On July 14, however, their Carnival cruise vacation took a violent and deadly turn.

According to Gonzalez, “Whatever good he has done in the past, whatever decency he had in the past, he left on the bathroom floor on July 14.” McGill reportedly attacked his wife before strangling her to death in the bathroom of their cabin aboard the Carnival cruise ship. The federal judge noted that McGill washed himself off before exiting his cabin to go smoke a cigar on the cruise vessel’s upper deck.

Upon being interrogated by FBI agents who were investigating the cruise murder, McGill claimed he attacked his wife while in an alcohol-induced hallucinogenic state. McGill told investigators he consumed approximately 8 beers, as well as half a bottle of Mezcal (a Mexican alcoholic beverage occasionally bottled with a scorpion inside) on July 14. 

McGill’s defense attorney attempted to persuade Gonzalez to sentence McGill to 11 years and 3 months in prison on the grounds that his client’s violent actions were a result of excessive alcohol consumption, but to no avail.

According to the Miami cruise ship injury attorneys of Gerson & Schwartz, more cruise ship industry reform is needed to adequately protect travelers and employees from preventable injuries, assaults, rapes, and in extreme cases such as the one above, murder.

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MIAMI, FL—October 25, 2011 – An Ohio husband who witnessed his wife get pulled into the propellers of a boat during a snorkeling expedition off the coast of Belize has filed a lawsuit alleging both wrongful death and negligence. According to information provided by the Seattle Times, Seattle-based cruise ship company Holland America and Belize-based snorkeling excursion company Cruise Solutions are being sued in connection with the horrific Feb. 2010 cruise accident.

Reports suggested Michael Mechling and his wife Diana boarded a Holland America cruise ship in Feb. 2010, seemingly under the premise that they would be able to participate in various tours and expeditions during their Caribbean cruise voyage. Unfortunately, one of those excursions took an unexpected turn for the worse.

According to a negligence and wrongful death lawsuit filed in Seattle on Oct. 18, the Mechlings were on a snorkeling trip off the coast of Belize when something went horribly wrong. Almost immediately after Diana Mechling leapt from the boat and into rough waters, the tour boat operator reversed in an attempt to stabilize the vessel.

The lawsuit alleged, “Michael Mechling realized that he could not see Diana Mechling and began yelling, `Where is my wife?'” Mrs. Mechling, who was behind the boat when the operator shifted it into reverse, was consequently pulled beneath the vessel and into its propellers. Although the severely injured cruise ship passenger was conscious upon being transported to a hospital, her wounds ultimately proved fatal.

Mr. Mechling is seeking unspecified compensation in connection with the fatal cruise accident

Although Cruise Solutions did not comment on the pending negligence lawsuit, Holland America spokesperson Erik Elvejord stated, “Holland America Line is aware that a complaint has been filed and we extend our sympathies to the family for their loss. However, as is company policy, we do not comment on legal matters.”

*The Miami personal injury law firm of Gerson & Schwartz, P.A. has no affiliation with the case above.

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MIAMI, FL— September 14, 2011 – Pinellas County Sheriff’s Office Marine investigators are conducting a probe into an unfortunate boating accident that claimed the life of a fisherman on the morning of Sept. 12. According to information provided by Patch, a 13-foot stick-steered boat went out of control in the Intracostal Waterway for unknown reasons, ejecting two fishermen, both of whom were not wearing lifejackets, into the water.

Reports indicated 68-year-old “Fireman John” Joseph Litz and 70-year-old Anthony S. Naismith were aboard the vessel Carolina Skiff when it began spinning out of control around 10:43 a.m. Although the fishermen were apparently able to report the emergency situation, they were thrown into the water for unknown reasons.

Another boater in the area appeared to have witnessed the boat accident reportedly helped retrieve the men from the water. Shortly after, a boat operated by Clearwater Fire and Rescue personnel responded to the site to tend to the victims.

While Naismith did not appear to suffer any injuries in the watercraft accident, responding emergency crews performed CPR on an unresponsive Litz before transporting him to the Seminole Boat Ramp so he could be rushed to Morton Plant Hospital for further medical attention. Sadly, Litz, who worked for the Pinellas Park Fire Department for nearly four decades, died at the medical center.

According statistics provided by the U.S. Coast Guard (USCG) and Florida Fish and Wildlife Conservation Commission (FWC), 668 boat accidents were reported during the year 2010. A total of 79 boating deaths and 389 injuries resulted from those boat crashes and accidents. Furthermore, Florida has the highest number of boating accidents in the nation.

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