BVI News and BVI Platinum News continue their excellent coverage of the tragic and deadly crash of the Princess Cruises' excursion bus in Tortola, British Virgin Islands (BVI) with an article entitled "It could Have Been Worse."
The BVI Tourist Board is trying to manage the public relations nightmare of the death and multiple injuries of U.S. cruise tourists on a bus with no seat belts being driven by a bus driver with an arrest history and prior conviction record for reckless driving nicknamed "Crash Dummy."
The Director of the BVI tourist Board, Ms. Hadassah Ward (photograph below, left), is struggling with crisis management efforts following this debacle. Ms. Ward scheduled a press conference yesterday where she announced that "it could have been worse."
I'm not sure I understand exactly how it "could have been worse."
A young man died needlessly on a cruise excursion, purchased by his loving parents for his birthday, because of the obvious negligence of the excursion company and cruise line which saw fit to associate itself with a substandard tour company which hired a known reckless driver nicknamed "Crash Dummy" operating a bus not suited for mountainous terrain.
Ms. Ward should have said "this should have never happened."
Instead we see Ms. Ward and her "Tourist Board" worrying about the image of her island and fretting about the press and the blogs covering the tragic story.
Muzzle the Press?
Ms. Ward announced that "one of the Board’s role is to monitor the media . . . to ensure accurate information is being disseminated. Ms. Ward also said she would monitor the "posted pictures of the accident . . . because it will be there for the next 10 to 20 years . . . "
Mr Ward is quoted as saying: "everyone is reading the blogs and newspapers… so we don’t want the information to be misconstrued where people will be affected in terms of liability . . . we need to understand that the blogs are read internationally."
She also noted that "good attitude from the Tourist Board officials" quelled any videos and photographs from being circulated online by the 16 tourists who were involved in the accident.
Ms. Ward concluded her remarks by stating "I am a great believer in letting the story die naturally . . ."
This is the essence of tourist boards and cruise line PR people - they just want the story to go away.
We reported in a prior blog that this is not the first cruise bus excursion to run off the road and injure cruise passengers in Tortola - "Brake Malfunction? Defense Lawyers for Princess Cruises and Bus Driver Disagree on Cause of Tortola Excursion Accident." Nothing was done after that disaster.
History is repeating itself.
Let's Be Happy & Forget about It
So we have the Tortola Tourist Board trying to puzzle the press and control the images of the tragedy for PR purposes.
And the island and cruise line people behind the scenes just want the story to die naturally . . .
And then what?
Another season of substandard buses, with no seat belts, with reckless drivers . . . and another round of unsuspecting cruise passengers taking their families on the next bus driven by a "Crash Dummy" . . .
Comments From Tortola:
Here are some of the comments to the BVI News story that the Tortola Tourist Board is concerned with:
An accident waiting to happen is no accident. Hiring a driver with driving infractions and one of which was reckless driving to operate your tour bus is irresponsible and negligent. The owner of the tour bus too, is guilty of negligence which contributed to this vehicular homicide. Just because these tourists were given a heap of hush money as incentives not to file a lawsuit (we hope) and to keep things quiet, doesn't mean that TB should be issuing insensitive words " It could have been worse" because frankly, it could not have been worse . .
Could have been worse?? Oh it's just one life....I mean come on. You're talking about insurance and all that...I mean if we have people operating and transporting persons and they have no license to drive or no insurance to operate heir vehicles then we have a very serious flaw in the system! Don't give me that could have been worse story. With as much violations this guy should he even be driving much less responsible for transporting this many people? These are peoples lives we're talking about!
License or no license, hiring a driver with a record of driving infractions including reckless driving, whose nickname is Crash Dummy should be good reason to revoke his license to operate a tour bus. Lackadaisical, slackness, don't care with attitude are words to describe the way business is conducted in this place from top to bottom.
March 11, 2010 Update:
Two newspaper stories from Tortola today address the efforts of the Tourist Board to assist the parents of the deceased cruise passenger, Mr. Rumphrey. The BVI News has an article "BVITB Reports on its Efforts to Assist Family of Tourist Killed in Road Accident." The BVIU Beacon also reports on the Tourist Board's efforts to assist the affected passengers in an article "BVITB Aids Family of Man Killed in Wreck." Ms. Ward is quoted saying: "Yes, bad things do happen in paradise, but when they do happen, you have a support group.”
Photograph of Ms. Ward BVI News
Photographs of bus BVI Platinum News