Local 10 News reports that a child is in critical condition after nearly drowning on board the Royal Caribbean Oasis of the Seas this evening. According to Channel 7, "officials said the young victim was swept under a wave pool and remained underwater for several minutes." The Broward County Sheriff's Office said the child was under water from 5 to 10 minutes.
The ship promptly returned to Port Everglades.
The 4 year old child was rescued by other passengers. The child was revived on board the ship and taken to Broward Health Medical Center.
I first learned of the incident when the Port Everglades webcam @PTZtv tweeted "#OasisoftheSeas approaching berth #18 #PortEverglades o. . . for medical disembark."
There has been great debate in the cruise industry whether to employ life guards to supervise the activities around cruise ship swimming pools. Royal Caribbean experienced a near drowning of a child on the Independence of the Seas in May of this year that left a 6 year old boy fighting for his life in a hospital.
To my knowledge, Disney is the only cruise line to employ life guards on its cruise ships. However it did so only after a 4 year old child nearly drown and sustained a catastrophic brain injury requiring life-time medical care and resulting in a multi-million dollar settlement.
I have long advocated for having a lifeguard at every pool on a cruise ship. Lifeguards are needed because parents are not perfect, and there is a natural tendency for parents to let their guards down when they are on vacation. Kids deserve to have their parents and the cruise line working together to keep them safe. The cruise industry collects $45 billion dollars a year from passengers and pays virtually zero in U.S. taxes. It's shameful for every cruise line except Disney to refuse to hire lifeguards to keep kids safe.
In an article published last week entitled Cruise Ships Are Unregulated Trouble on the High Seas, the New York Times wrote that Congress has exempted these cruise ship behemoths from virtually all regulations. The Times characterized the last death of a child in a pool without a lifeguard as a problem with letting cruise lines regulate themselves.
Here are other articles of kids drowning or nearly drowning on cruise ships:
I'm interviewed below in the video about legal issues about the safety for children around cruise ships swimming pools.
January 4 2015 Update: Where did this occur on the Oasis? The Broward County Sheriff's Office refers to a "wave pool" but I didn't realize that the cruise ship has one. He referred to deck 15 where the Flowriders are located but the water there is not deep enough to drown in. A web site in Italy discusses this issue.
Miami Herald publishes Near-drowning on Royal Caribbean cruise raises concerns about lack of lifeguards.
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