CruiseCritic reports that an excursion tour bus taking passengers from Princess Cruises' Caribbean Princess cruise ship crashed in Tortola.
In an article entitled "Tragic Bus Accident on Cruise-Sponsored Shore Excursion," the CruiseCritic website reports that the cruise sponsored tour bus was headed to a "Tropical Forest Hike and Beach."
The tour bus (photo left) "went off the road and flipped earlier today. Of the 20 passengers onboard, one person was killed and two others were seriously injured."
According to CruiseCritic, the injured passengers were taken to a local hospital, while the other passengers were taken back to the cruise ship. The passenger who died was a 24-year-old man from Rochester, New York, on vacation with his parents, who were also on the tour.
BVI News Online reports that the deceased passenger is Aaron Humphry who died at at Peebles Hospital as a result of injuries sustained in the accident.
The BVI News reports that twenty cruise ship passengers from the Caribbean Princess were on a tour bus descending onto the Windy Hill Road on Tortola when the driver struck an embankment and the vehicle overturned.
Seven passengers were taken to the hospital while the other 13 passengers were assessed at the scene and taken back to the cruise ship. Five were treated and discharged while one passenger has been retained for a fractured shoulder bone. The unidentified driver was treated and released.
Princess Cruises issued a statement that it is "providing support to the family during this difficult time." Behind the scenes, Princess Cruises is also sending a team of lawyers from Miami to Tortola to begin to defend the cruise line's interests. The same Miami cruise line defense lawyers who traveled to the Star Princess when it caught fire near Jamaica in 2006 are flying to Tortola today.
The Princess Cruises web site describes the tour bus as an "open air safari bus." (However, the bus in the BVI News photograph appears to be an enclosed bus). Princess Cruises describes the excursion as follows:
"This excursion visits two of Tortola's most popular attractions--Sage Mountain National Park and one of its beautiful beaches . . . Board your open-air safari bus and drive along the island's scenic Ridge Road to Sage Mountain National Park . . .
This is the second serious excursion vehicular accident in the last year.
Exactly one year ago today, a dozen passengers from Celebrity Cruises' Summit cruise ship were seriously injured when an open air excursion vehicle ran off the road in Dominica (photo left). We are representing passengers against the cruise line and the excursion company in that accident.
Information on the Dominica excursion accident is contained in an article "Injured Visitors to Dominica Airlifted to Miami."
"Open air safari" buses and other similar vehicles in the Caribbean are often designed without seat belts or shoulder harnesses, and the vehicles are also often substandard. It remains to be seen what the local police's investigation reveals about this particular accident.
It is also likely that the defense lawyers for the cruise line have already hired their own experts to take a look at the vehicle with an eye toward defending the cruise line. Most excursion companies associated with the cruise line are required to maintain liability insurance with U.S. insurance underwriters. These underwriters work with the cruise line to maintain a united defense against any passenger who is injured in excursion accidents like this.
The BVI Platinum News has a slide show of detailed photographs of the damages excursion bus after the accident, which are available online.
February 24, 2010 Update:
The deceased passenger has been correctly identified as Aaron Rumphrey.
The police arrested the driver of the excursion bus - Police Arrest Driver of Princess Cruises Excursion Bus In Tortola.
Photograph of Tortola bus excursion accident BVI News Online
Photograph of Dominica excursion crash thedominican.net
Photographs (slide show) of Tortola excursion bus BVI Platinum News