Celebrity SummitVirgin Islands News Online reports that at least two cruise passengers have been killed and many other passengers injuired on an excursion bus transporting cruise tourists to Cane Garden Bay beach today in Tortola, British West Indies. 

According to this news report, the excursion bus apparently lost control near "Round Hill" on the Cane Garden Bay Hill. 

The newspaper says that the roadway was steep and wet but it does not state how or why the accident occurred.

The cruise passengers were from the Celebrity Summit. Royal Caribbean has tweeted: "We are saddened to report the deaths of two Celebrity Summit guests after a local bus accident in Tortola. Several others are being treated." It earlier tweeted that "16 of 20 passengers reported injured, 2 critically."

In 2010, an excursion bus carrying Princess cruise passengers crashed in Tortola, killing one young man.  

This is not the first time that cruise passengers from Celebrity’s Summit cruise ship have been seriously injured in an excursion vehicle mishap in the Caribbean islands. In 2009, a dozen passengers from Celebrity Cruises’ Summit were seriously injured when an open air excursion vehicle ran off the road in Dominica. We represented passengers against the cruise line and the excursion company in that accident. You can read information on the Dominica excursion accident in an article "Injured Visitors to Dominica Airlifted to Miami."

There were two cruise excursion bus crashes in 2012 in Caribbean islands, both involving Royal Caribbean passengers.

Photo Credit: "Celebrity Summit" by Yankeesman312 Licensed under CC BY-SA 3.0 via Commons / Wikipedia.

A newspaper in the Caribbean reports that  Carnival’s Costa Fortuna cruise ship with over four thousand passengers and crew members was stuck the Road Harbour on the main Island of Tortola in the Virgin Islands after it arrived on the early morning of Sunday 22, 2015. 

The ship was scheduled to last Sunday at around 6:00 PM. However, the port authority says that it developed an unspecified "technical problem" while anchored in the harbor.

Costa FortunaA "technical problem" seems to be code for a mechanical issue with the ship’s engines and propulsion systems. Engineers flew to the port to assess the ship for repairs. 

Passengers have to be ferried into port. 

Carnival has not issued an official statement. 

AIS systems seem to show the cruise ship has sailed and is in St. John’s Antigua today. It looks like the ship sailed earlier this week to Philipsburg and St. Kitts.    

Anyone have information to explain what happened with this ship in Tortola?

 

Photo Credit: Wikipedia / Ed g2s

Tortola - Carnival Drops PortCarnival Cruise Lines is dropping the British Virgin Islands port of Tortola next year. 

Carnival intended to send five cruise ships to Tortola through April 2015.

The port is overhauling its cruise ship dock, and passengers may be required to tender from the ship to shore, Carnival spokeswoman Jennifer de la Cruz said.

The Carnival cruise ships involved are the Sunshine, Freedom, Liberty, Glory and Valor

Tortola was the port where a Princess cruise passenger died in an excursion bus tour three and one-half years ago. 

 

Photo Credit: cruisetimetables.com

BVI Platinum News reports that Roland Allen, the driver of the cruise tour bus involved in the excursion accident in Tortola, was released from prison "after someone successfully posted bail for him."

Earlier last month, Mr. Allen – also known as "Crash Dummy" – was placed on $60,000 bail where he had to pay $25,000 in cash and sign a $35,000 surety.  His lawyer had informed the Court that Mr. Allen did not have the money to make bail.

The question arises who paid the bail?  Was the money gathered by friends or family members?  Or did  anyone acting on behalf of the excursion company or cruise line come up with the money behind the scenes?    

The newspaper reports that Mr. Allen will return to Court on April 21st for another hearing.  His trial on charges for reckless driving leading to the death of a Princess Cruises passenger and multiple injuries to other passengers will be scheduled later this year.

We have written many articles about this case

Do you have information regarding the source of the bail money?  Please contact us. 

Roland AllenBVI Platinum News reports that Roland Allen, the driver of the bus carrying Princess Cruises passengers on an excursion into Tortola, cannot make the $60.000 bail and will remain imprisoned.

The article shows a photograph of Mr. Allen, nicknamed "Crash Dummy," wearing a red sport shirt, waving with his mouth open. It is not the type of photo I would want if I were a criminal defense lawyer and my client stood accused of causing death by reckless driving.  He looks like a jokester.

The prosecutors are still preparing the case for trial. The article mentions that the prosecutors are  awaiting statements from U.S. witnesses. The Magistrate scheduled another hearing for April 21st.  

Mr. Allen’s lawyer requested a modification of the bail.  The Magistrate said no.  So "Crash Dummy" remains in jail.

We have written many articles on this sad case,

 

Credits:

Photograph                    BVI Platinum News

A reader sent us a link to the photograph below which, if you have been following our blog for the past month, you should recognize is the site of the tragic cruise excursion bus accident in Tortola in February.  One young man died and several other passengers from a Princess Cruises cruise ship were injured as the bus sped down "Windy Hill" road and crashed into the side of the hill before flipping over in the road.

Tortola Cruise Excursion Bus Accident - Princess CruisesAlthough the accident occurred almost one month ago, rocks and debris remain on the road.  In a post entitled "Not My Job Mon," several readers of Travel Talk Online have commented on the embarrassment of the government of Tortola being unable to clean up the accident site over the past many weeks. 

One reader commented: "Maybe the "Crash Dummy" could clean it up in his orange jump suit!! That is crazy!!"

You will recall that "Crash Dummy" is the cruise excursion bus driver, Roland Allen, who is in jail awaiting trial for dangerous driving.  We have covered Mr. Allen’s driving record and criminal record in previous blogs.  

It is unacceptable that a cruise line like Princess Cruises would use an old bus driven by a known reckless driver with a criminal record. 

Tortola’s tourist board convened press conferences following the deadly bus crash and promised to look into this accident.  They vowed to improve the safety of the taxis and buses carrying cruise passengers and other tourists. 

Is this just happy talk to appease the cruise lines? 

Why hasn’t the tourist board erected a memorial on the side of the road to remember the young man who died?   Why hasn’t Tortola installed "caution" or "slow down" signs on the hill to remind other drivers to be careful?

Or at least pushed the rocks off the road to avoid other accidents?     

 

Credits:

Photograph     Travel Talk Online 

BVI Platinum News reports that cruise excursion bus driver Roland Allen is in trouble with the Tortola police again.

Roland Allen - Tortola - Cruise Excursion - Bus DriverMr. Allen – known in the community as "Crash Dummy" – was the driver of the green excursion bus which crashed on "Windy Hill Road" on February 24, 2010  while transporting cruise passengers from a Princess Cruises’ cruise ship.  One cruise passenger died and multiple others were injured.

A few days before the bus accident, a theft occurred when someone broke into a home and stole various items including a laptop computer. Mr. Allen’s girlfriend, one Emesha Henry, came into possession of the stolen laptop. The newspaper reports that  Ms. Henry resides from time to time at Mr. Allen’s apartment.  It is less than clear from the article whether Mr. Allen or his girlfriend or someone else committed the burglary.

According to this news source, when police arrived on the scene of the excursion bus accident, the police asked Mr. Allen about his girlfriend.  Later, a police officer overheard Mr. Allen speaking on his cell phone.  As it turns out, Mr. Allen had called his girlfriend and told her to remove a stolen laptop computer from his apartment and hide the stolen item in a vehicle parked outside.

The police thereafter arrested Ms. Henry and charged her with handling stolen goods. A trial is scheduled for June 2, 2010. There is no indication in the news article that Mr. Allen was charged with any wrongdoing, although it would appear that he should be charged with aiding and abetting his girlfriend in the criminal offense if this story is accurate.  

Another article in the BVI News reports that the police suspect Mr. Allen to be involved in the burglary.  The article reports that the thief stole "gold plated earrings, gold rings, gold ankle chain, a lap top, a notebook computer, designer handbag and a silver ring . . ."

We have reported on Mr. Allen’s troubles in prior articles:

How Did Princess Cruises Excursion Bus Driver "Crash Dummy" Earn His Nick Name? – Why Does He Have A Police Record? 

Did Princess Cruises Check the Driving Record of Excursion Bus Driver, Crash Dummy? 

Brake Malfunction? Defense Lawyers for Princess Cruises and Bus Driver Disagree on Cause of Tortola Excursion Accident 

Police Arrest Driver of Princess Cruises Excursion Bus In Tortola 

The readers to the BVI Platinum News article are having a field day with Mr. Allen’s involvement in this alleged crime.  To say the least, it is repugnant that "Crash Dummy" was engaged in such conduct as a cruise passenger was dying following the crash.

"Cindy" writes: "If this is the case, how many more unsolved robberies or more serious crimes is this young man responsible for?"

"Got a side job?" writes: Seems like "crash" also goes by the name of "smash and grab."

"Good job" writes: "What a call to make after your driving just caused a man his life!!!"

In the comments to the BVI News article, Mr. Allen is referred to as "crash" and "smash and grab," and his girlfriend, Ms. Henry, as "crash chic."   

 

Credits:

Roland Allen  photograph    BVI Platinum News
 

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."

PR Nightmare

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."

Tortola Excursion Bus Accident - Princess CruisesI’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.

Cruise Excursion - Princess Cruises - TortolaWe 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 . .

Tortola - Cruise Bus - Crash Dummy - Princess CruisesCould 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.”

 

Credits:

Photograph of Ms. Ward         BVI News

Photographs of bus                   BVI Platinum News    

 

In an article entitled "Taxi Driver Granted $60,000 Bail – License Suspended," BVI News in Tortola, British Virgin Islands (BVI) reports that the driver of the Princess Cruises excursion bus arrested for reckless driving and causing death by reckless driving has been offered bail in the amount $60,000.  The Magistrate set bail of $25,000 cash and a $35,000 surety.

BVI citizen Roland Allen was arrested following the crash of a bus carrying cruise passengers from a Princess Cruise ship on an excursion into Tortola. The accident occurred as the cruise excursion bus was descending a very steep road called "Windy Hill Road." 

Roland Allen - Crash Dummy - Tortola - Princess CruisesThe Magistrate suspended Mr. Allen’s license, pending the outcome of his trial regarding the death of cruise passenger Aaron Rumphrey who died in the crash.  

The BVI News reports that Mr. Allen’s next court appearance is March 25, 2010.

"Crash Dummy" Arrested For Theft?

BVI News previously reported that the excursion bus driver is known as "Crash Dummy," a nick-name Mr. Allen apparently obtained before the fatal cruise excursion bus accident.

An online "Police Blotter" indicates that "Roland Allen of Baughers Bay" was arrested for theft in July of last year.  There are no details online available to explain the nature of the alleged theft, or how the charges were resolved. 

The comments to the online reports refer to Mr. Allen as "Crash Dummy," suggesting that Mr. Allen’s reputation as a "crash dummy" existed before the terrible cruise line excursion accident. 

How Did "Crash Dummy" Earn His Nick Name?

The question remains how and when Mr. Roland earned the unenviable label of being a "crash  dummy?"  Has the cruise excursion driver been involved in other accidents?

A clue may be found in the comments of a reader of the BVI News:

"When you hire a driver that you know (or should know) is a reckless driver, he has been involved with the law several times because of his driving habits and you know that around town his name is "Crash Dummy", and you have not informed unsuspecting customers by placing a sign on the bus "Ride at your own Risk, Dangerous Driver" then you are as guilty and responsible for the outcome and should be in Balsum and your company shut down immediately. You, the driver and the BVI Government share the responsibility for this travesty and the lawsuits will be piling up, no doubt."

Why Did Princess Cruises Permit Cruise Passengers To Be Driven By "Crash Dummy?"

It is an understatement to say that it is reckless for the cruise line to herd unsuspecting cruise tourists into a bus without seat belts to be driven over a steep hill by a driver called "Crash Dummy" with a police record and apparently a history of driving violations.

Mr. Allen’s driving record and police history will become a focus of investigators.  We will be discussing this outrageous situation created by Princess Cruises in our next blogs.

A Hero or Villian? 

Another newspaper in BVI, the BVI Beacan, reports that the prosecutors in Tortola intend to prove that Mr. Roland was driving recklessly.  The newspaper quotes the prosecutor saying: 

“The vehicle started to accelerate and despite efforts, the driver was unable to bring the vehicle to a stop . . .  We are claiming that his driving was reckless because he was going at a speed at which he was unable to control the vehicle . . . a loud screeching was heard from the brakes . . .  [Mr. Allen] ought to have known” about any problems with the excursion bus.

However, Mr. Allen’s defense lawyer argued to the Court that when his client "started down the hill, he put the bus into second gear but realised there were no brakes. He tried pumping the brakes but the vehicle sped down the hill, not because of Mr. Allen’s actions, but because it was heavy with the tourists’ weight."

“He had no alternative but to put the bus in those ruins. If he’d done anything else he would have gone off the hill. He should be commended.”

In our first article regarding the excursion tour bus accident in Tortola, we explained that while Princess Cruises sent "customer care" representatives to the island to meet with the survivors of the crash – the cruise line also sent Miami defense trial lawyers to defend the cruise line’s interests. 

The Cruise Line Gets Lawyered Up

The attorney heading up Princess Cruises’ defense is Jeffrey Maltzman from the Maltzman Foreman law firm in Miami. Mr. Maltzman is an experienced and skilled trial lawyer who routinely defends cruise lines and excursion companies in high profile trials. 

Jeffrey Maltman - Cruise Line Defense LawyerMr. Maltzman is best known for his successful defense of Cunard Line and Fun Water Tours following the crash of an excursion truck in Tortola British Virgin Islands (BVI) in November 2005.  The case  is highlighted in an article appearing in the National Law Journal entitled "Defense Team Found the Needle in the Haystack." 

The article explains that 8 cruise passengers from Cunard’s Queen Mary 2 visiting Tortola were injured when the brakes of the excursion truck failed, causing the vehicle to crash in the side of a mountain.  The issue of the brake failure and whether the excursion company and cruise line knew of the brake problem were the central focus of the trial.  As the article explains, millions of dollars in compensation were at issue.    

Although the article explains that "odds were overwhelmingly against" the cruise line at the beginning, Mr. Maltzman and his partner, Jeffrey Forman, successfully defended the case.  Mr. Foreman is quoted as saying "there’s a saying that pigs get slaughtered . . . If you make them look like they’re greedy . . .  that usually has an impact.  So we tried to paint them as greedy, exaggerating, malingering."  The tactic worked, as the jury decided against all of the cruise passengers and Mr. Maltzman won a defense jury verdict for the cruise line and excursion company.  

Princess Cruises Denies Brake Malfunction?

Mr. Maltzman has been on the Caribbean Princess cruise ship this week interviewing the passengers injured in the latest excursion crash in Tortola.  His firm has what is called an "Emergency Response Team" where defense lawyers are scrambled to respond to cruise disasters.

Some passengers suggest that a "customer care" representative from Princess and Carnival introduced Mr. Maltzman as an "independent investigator" (although Mr. Maltzman identified himself as a lawyer for the cruise line).    

Tortola Excursion Bus Accident - Princess Cruises - Brake Failure?Mr. Maltzman is reportedly telling some of the passengers that the tour bus’ air brakes were checked out by investigators and no problems were discovered.  It is less than clear whether the investigators were retained by the police or the defense lawyers on behalf of the cruise line. 

The defense strategy is already taking shape – the cruise line will deny that the accident was due to brake failure or any defect in the excursion bus or, if there was a problem with the brakes, neither the driver nor the excursion company or cruise line knew about it beforehand.  Princess Cruises will argue that it should not be responsible because this was just an isolated incident due to the momentary carelessness of the bus driver. 

Or in other words, the bus driver may turn out to be the "fall guy."

The Bus Driver Gets Lawyered Up

BVI Platinum News, which is providing excellent coverage of this tragic accident, reports that the bus driver, Roland Allen, retained a defense lawyer, Stephan Daniels.  BVI News reports that Mr. Allen is also known as "Crash Dummy."   

Roland Allen - Bus Driver - Tortola Excursion Accident - Princess CruisesMr. Daniels appeared in Court yesterday in an effort to try and get his client out of jail, following his arrest two days ago.  In an article entitled "Mechanical Problems May Have Caused Tuesday’s Accident,"  BVI News describes what the bus driver’s lawyer argued to the Court:

"Daniels told the court that his client was not aware that there was a brake malfunction when he was going down the hill, however as he applied the brake, he realized that it had failed.

Further, Daniels told the court that once Allen realized what was occurring, he tried his best to avoid the accident by gearing down, while attempting to brace the vehicle to the side of the hill to slow down the bus.

Daniels explained that the vehicle collided with the foundation of a church ruin and toppled. The Lawyer said that if this was not done, the accident could have been worse.

He said that it was clearly a mechanical malfunction that resulted in the accident and his client was not reckless."

The Court nonetheless declined to release Mr. Allen, but will consider the matter further at a hearing on March 2nd.

The Cruise Continues

Although none of the passengers have even ended their ill fated cruise, the defense lawyers for the cruise line and bus driver are posturing to defend their clients.  Princess Cruises has an excellent lawyer in Mr. Maltzman who has won this type of case before.  The bus driver should hope that his defense lawyer is equally talented.

 

Credits:

Jeffrey Maltzman       Superlawyers

Excursion Bus           BVI Platinum News

Roland Allen             BVI Platinum News