In November of 2015, a 78 year old passenger from South Korea drowned in a swimming pool on P&O Australia’s Pacific Dawn cruise ship that did not have a lifeguard.  The cruise ship was sailing from Brisbane, Australia to New Guinea.

The ship’s un-monitored closed circuit television recording showed the passenger enter the adult-only lifeguard-less swimming pool around 10:37 A.M. and swim around.  At 10:51 A.M., another cruise passenger in the pool noticed that he was lying on the bottom of the pool and began to shout for help Pacific Dawn Drowning Report - MAIBone minute later. A security employee happened to see the bystander waving his arms and ran down to the pool. The drowned passenger was removed from the pool  and another security personnel called the bridge and the emergency telephone number. At 10:55 the bridge team made a tannoy announcement and summoned the medical department. Other passengers began chest compressions and mouth-to-mouth resuscitation.    

The ship’s medical team (consisting of two doctors and three nurses) arrived promptly once summoned at 10:57 A.M. and administered treatment including the use of an external defibrillator. At 11:20 A.M., the senior doctor declared the passenger to be deceased.  

A subsequent autopsy found some signs of artery disease but concluded that the primary cause of death was drowning.  

Because the P&O ship was flagged in the U.K., the death was investigated by the U.K.’s Marine Investigation Branch (MAIB) which has done excellent work in other cruise drowning cases like the  passenger drowning case on the Princess Sapphire Princess last year. The MAIB concluded in that case that "a lack of dedicated pool attendants potentially delayed the emergency response, and that risks relating to the use of the swimming pools by unsupervised passengers had not been formally assessed and documented." The MAIB recommended to Princess Cruises that it perform a "suitable and sufficient risk assessment" regarding the cruise ships’ swimming pools.

In this case involving the Pacific Dawn, the MAIB concluded that "constant poolside supervision by lifeguards provides the best assurance of pool user safety." The cruise line also was required, but did not perform prior to the death, a risk assessment to determine whether pool supervision was necessary. 

Among other factors, the MAIB noted that "constant poolside supervision" is necessary when, among other factors:

  • the pool has water deeper than 1.5 m (the pool was deeper than this);
  • crowded conditions are expected;
  • food or alcohol will be available to pool users.

The MAIB noted that although the medical team’s response was swift once they were finally summoned, "if a dedicated pool attendant had been monitoring passengers in the pool, Mr Oh’s (the decedent’s) situation could have been identified and an emergency response initiated at the earliest possible opportunity." 

The MAIB also said that the frequency of near drownings in unsupervised swimming pools should be considered when conducting risk assessments "so that an appropriate level of pool supervision is maintained in all circumstances." Consistent with other reports, the MAIB said that "constant poolside supervision" is required whenever "the pool will be used by unaccompanied children aged under 15 years."

As we have discussed many times, there have been numerous drownings and near-drownings on NCL, Carnival and Royal Caribbean cruise ships in the last several years. 

It’s a real shame that most Miami-based cruise lines which do not bother to hire lifeguards or conduct swimming pool risk assessments (because they usually flagged in places like the Bahamas or Panama) are not subject to criticism from reputable authorities like the MAIB.

Photo credit: MAIB gov.uk 

Hat Tip: Safety4Sea

Love Boat DeathA newspaper reports that police in Turkey are investigating the death of two shipyard workers who inhaled toxic fumes from a plumbing fixture yesterday as they were disassembling the MS Pacific cruise ship which had became famous as the "Love Boat" in the 1970’s television series.

“The Love Boat” was towed from Genoa to the seaside town of Aliağa in Turkey last week to be stripped and dismantled by Izmir Ship Recycling Company which bought the 42-year-old ship for 2.5 million euros.

The newspaper states that ten workers who entered the engine room were poisoned by fumes released from a plumbing fixture’s exhaust pipe while they were draining water in the engine room. 

The affected workers were taken to nearby hospitals, but two of them, Doğan Balcı, age 37, and Davut Özdemir, age 40, died. 

The poisoning was the second such incident to occur on the ship. Another worker reportedly had been sickened on the first day of dismantling the ship. 

A newspaper in Australia is reporting that 16 cruise passengers, with ages between 18 and 23, were booted off the P & O Cruises’ Pacific Dawn cruise ship for fighting.  

The incident occurred late at night, with some newspaper accounts suggesting that the men were intoxicated and fighting over a woman. 

The Observer reports that one of the passengers was arrested after he allegedly assaulted a female crew member.  The newspaper quotes one of the rowdy passengers stating: "We got PO Cruises Pacific Dawn Brawlkicked off because we were having too much fun . . . It was awesome." 

Outbreaks of fights like this are one of the occurrences which mar the cruising experience.  How often these incidents occur is subject to debate.  Recently, 20/20 aired a cruise expose which showed lots of YouTube videos of cruise drunks and out-of-control brawls.  Many travel agents and cruise fans were upset with what they thought was a sensationalist television program.  

We have looked into the problem of too much booze and fights on cruises over the last few years in our articles:

Cruise Ship Brawls – A Problem that Will Get Bigger with Bigger Ships

More Cruise Ship Violence – A Drunken Brawl On Carnival’s Dream

If you were on the cruise and have photos or video of the brawl, please leave a comment below. 

  

Photo credit:  Christopher Cahn / Observer

The criminal trial in Australia regarding the death of Dianne Brimble on P & O Cruises’ Pacific Sky continues with key witnesses having a complete lapse of memory. 

In a previous article, I commented on the danger of passengers, like Ms. Brimble, being given "Fantasy" or other date rape drugs on cruise ships.

Dragan Losic (with goatee), one of "8 persons of interest" in Ms. Brimble’s death, appeared in Court. Over the course of three hours of his testimony, he could not even remember meeting Dianne Brimble on the first night of the cruise, just hours before she died in his friends’ cabin. 

Australia’s "The Age" newspaper reports that Mr. Losic previously testified in what is called a "coronial inquest." At that time, he clearly recollected that he was the first to meet Ms Brimble in a disco on the cruise ship and he later observed her in his friend’s cabin.  He also remembered "Fantasy" on the cruise ship.  But now with his friend on trial for Ms.Brimble’s death, Mr. Losic can’t remember a thing.

Another key witness, Matthew Graham Slade, who testified today also changed his story. Australian news website news.com.au reports that Mr. Slade originally told police that  he awoke on the cruise and  saw a naked body on the floor of his cabin. But at trial, he claims that he can’t remember this at all. 

In New Orleans where I went to law school, we called this "crawfishing."  This is a term which characterizes a crawfish (or other crustacean) which crawls backwards, usually into a hole, when confronted with danger. 

Date rape drugs.  Crawfishing witnesses.  A devastated family.  The trial continues. 

 

Photo credit      Sydney Morning Herald 

 

 

A criminal trial begins this week in Australia in the case of cruise passenger Dianne Brimble, a passenger sailing with her children on P & O Cruises’ Pacific Sky in 2002. It has been seven years since Ms. Brimble’s ill fated cruise which ended with her death. A coroner determined the cause of her demise to be a date rape drug given to her by another passenger, Mark Wilhelm, who is now finally standing trial for her death.

There is a danger on cruise ships of being given a date rape drug by either a crew member or another passenger.

There are a couple of different date rape drugs. One is called “GHB.” The scientific name is Gamma Hydroxybutyric acid. It is also be called “grievous bodily harm.” Another is Funitrazepam, called Rohypnol or commonly known as “roofies.” These drugs are clear, tasteless, and odorless – similar to water. When combined with alcohol the drug will incapacitate unsuspecting victims and cause slurred speech, sedation, unconsciousness and death. Even without alcohol, Rohypnol is ten times stronger than Valium. Rapists use these drugs to knock their victims out.

These drugs are readily available in foreign ports, particularly in Mexico. Crew members or passengers going ashore can easily obtain “roofies” or “GHB” and bring the drugs back to the cruise ship.  One of our clients was given a spiked drink by a bartender on a cruise ship returning from Mexico. Interviewed by Time magazine in an article entitled "Crime Rocks the Boats," she reported "her legs go rubbery and her mind turn to mush as the bartender led her to an employees-only restroom and raped her before she passed out cold."

If proper blood and urine testing is not performed in a timely manner after the rape, the drugs will not be detected. Cruise ships are notorious for having ill equipped medical facilities and incompetent or indifferent staff. It is important for passengers to use the same safeguards you would use in a bar ashore:

  • Ask bartenders or bar servers to open your beverages in front of you.
  • Watch your drinks.
  • Don’t leave your drinks unattended when you go on the dance floor or to the ladies room.
  • Stay with your group of friends.
  • Realize that crimes occur routinely on cruise ships.
  • Have fun – but don’t let your guard down.
  • If you are a victim of rape, insist that the ship doctor take blood and urine samples immediately.

Ms. Brimble’s family joined International Cruise Victims (“ICV”) organization to bring awareness to the problem of cruise ship crime. Mr. Brimble is the President of the ICV chapter in Australia. Information regarding Ms. Brimble is available on the ICV website.

 

Photo Credits:

International Cruise Victims – photo of Dianne Brimble