May 2011 Archives

May 30, 2011

Personal Watercraft Accident Leaves Passenger in the Hospital

The Daytona-Beach News Journal reports a personal watercraft accident occurred in the Intracoastal Waterway between Ponce Inlet and New Smyrna Beach. The accident happened about 3:45 p.m. on March 29 -- the operator was arrested for boating under the influence. After being ejected from the personal watercraft, the female passenger was airlifted to Bert Fish Medical Center in New Smyrna Beach. Her condition is presently unknown.

May 30, 2011

Singer Sean Kingston Crashes Personal Watercraft into Miami Bridge

The Miami-Herald reports Miami born pop singer Sean Kingston, 21, crashed a personal watercraft into Palm Island Bridge in Biscayne Bay around 6 p.m. on May 29. The Florida Fish and Wildlife Commission stated Kingston was driving the personal watercraft with a female passenger on board when the accident occurred. A passing boater saw the accident and took the two aboard. Miami-Beach Fire Rescue took Kingston and his passenger to Ryder Trauma Center. Though their medical status is not immediately known, Kingston is believed to be in critical condition.

May 29, 2011

Passenger Rescued from Carnival Cruise Ship Miracle reports the Coast Guard medevaced a 60-year-old passenger off the Carnival cruise ship Miracle on May 29th after he reportedly suffered a heart attack. The rescue occured 43 miles east of Oregon Inlet.

The Coast Guard dispatched a rescue helicopter from Air Station Elizabeth City. The passenger was taken to a nearby hospital for treatment. No word on the man's condition.

May 28, 2011

Suction Entrapment Pool Drain Cover Recall Impacts Nearly a Million Pools, Spas & Hot Tubs

To avoid the potential of pool and spa suction entrapments, the U.S. Consumer Products Safety Commission (CPSC) recalled dozens of models of drain covers from eight different manufactures. This recall is expected to impact over a million pools and spas nationwide.

Pool, Hot Tub and Spa Suction Entrapment Lawyer Attorney.jpgPool and spa suction entrapments are a real danger to swimmers. According to the CPSC, from 1999 to 2010 there were 97 suction entrapments nationwide, 12 of which involved deaths. The CPSC recalled these drain covers because they were incorrectly rated to handle the flow of water which could pose a possible suction entrapment hazard. The recall is a result of a several month investigation wherein obtained over 17,000 documents from testing laboratories used by the drain manufactures.

There has been a strong federal and state government interest in pool regulation in recent years. This interest primarily stems from the 2002 suction entrapment death of 7-year-old Virginia Graeme Baker "Graeme". On June 15, 2002, Graeme went to a graduation pool party at a friend's house. Shortly after arriving, she entered a hot tub and became pinned to bottom drain. Although two adults were eventually able to pull Graeme  from the bottom, she drowned. From this tragedy, Congress passed the 2007 Virginia Graeme Baker Act. As of December 19, 2008, this law:

  1. Prohibits the manufacture, sale or distribution of suction outlets and covers in the U.S. that are not ASME/ANSI A112.19.8-2007 certified,
  2. Requires all public pools and spas, both new and existing, be equipped with certified covers on every suction outlet,
  3. Requires all new construction of public pools and spas include multiple drain outlets, and
  4. Requires existing public pools and spas with a single suction outlet, other than an unblockable outlet, to be fitted with one or more of the following intended to prevent death or injury caused by entrapment, evisceration or entanglement:
    • Safety vacuum release system (SVRS) that complies with ANSI/ASME A112.19.17 or ASTM F2387;
    • Suction limiting vent system;
    • Gravity drainage system;
    • Automatic pump shut-off;
    • Drain disablement; or
    • Equivalent system that may be approved by the CPSC.
The recent recall primarily affects kiddie pools, wading pools and inground spas. It also impacts single-drain pools that do not have an unblockable drain, gravity feed system or drain covers installed before December 2008.

The CPSC cautions owners of pools, spas and hot tubs outfitted with the recalled drain covers to stop using the products immediately. Anyone with one of the recalled drain covers should immediately contact the manufacturer to get a replacement or retrofit.

The manufacturers of the recalled drain covers are:

  • A&A Manufacturing;
  • AquaStar Pool Products;
  • Color Match Pool Fittings;
  • Custom Molded Products;
  • Hayward Pool Products;
  • Pentair Water Pool and Spa;
  • Rising Dragon USA; and
  • Waterway Plastics.

May 28, 2011

Passenger Medevaced Off NCL'S Norwegian Jewel

New Radio reports a 70-year-old passenger off the NCL cruise ship Norwegian Jewel ship 50 miles off the coast of Atlantic City, New Jersey on the night May 29th.

Coast Guard watchstanders at Sector Delaware Bay in Philadelphia received a call at 7:52 p.m. from a crewmember aboard the Norwegian Jewel reporting the woman was having kidney failure.

An MH-65 Dolphin helicopter crew from Coast Guard Air Station Atlantic City arrived on scene and hoisted the woman into the helicopter and transported her to Regional Medical Center in Atlantic City for treatment. Her condition is unknown.

May 24, 2011

Jupiter Man Critically Injured after Boat Strikes Intracoastal Waterway Channel Marker

The Palm Beach Post reports Kai Woodstock, 26, from Jupiter was critically injured on the night of May 21st when the boat he was riding in struck a lighted channel marker in the Intracoastal Waterway near Marcinski Road. Woodstock was flown by trauma hawk to St. Mary's Medical Center after the accident, which occurred around 9:46 p.m., according to a spokeswoman for the Florida Fish and Wildlife Commission (FWC).

Woodstock was one of five passengers in the boat. According to Jupiter Police, the boat's operator, Timothy Doran, 21, fled the scene on foot after the accident. It is not known whether Doran was injured. The FWC has kept the boat and its contents as evidence.

Though law enforcement believes Alcohol to be a factor, the FWC is investigating how the accident occurred.

News coverage of the boat accident.

May 24, 2011

Estate of John Van-Hoy, Jr. (Deceased Dec. 28, 2010) vs. Sandals Resorts et. al. Press Release

Estate of John Van-Hoy, Jr., et. al. v. Sandals Resorts International, Ltd., Unique Vacations, Inc., Hayward Industries, Inc., A.O. Smith Corp., Pentair Water Pool & Spa, Inc. & Sta-Rite Industries, LLC.

John Van Hoy v. Sandals Hot Tub Drowing.jpg

While enjoying a once in a lifetime trip with his fiancée, Nicole Cleaveland, John Van-Hoy, Jr., drowned when he became entrapped in a spa pool at the Sandals' Royal Bahamian Resort in Nassau, Bahamas. On December 28, 2010, at the end of the day, John was in approximately 3 ½ feet of water in a small circular hot tub / spa at the Resort, while Nicole relaxed nearby. John submerged his body under the warm waters, but never came up. As it turns out, his body had been "sucked" onto the single suction outlet drain at the bottom of the hot tub.

Although he was 33 years old, a former all-state baseball player, in excellent shape, and could bench press over 300 pounds, John could not free himself. Nicole, realizing something was horribly wrong when John did not re-surface, tried unsuccessfully to free John from the suction forces generated by the spa's pump and water circulation systems. In response to Nicole's screams for help, five or more heroic guests jumped into the hot tub but collectively also could not free John from the suction outlet drain at the bottom of the spa. Complicating matters, experts who have visited the Resort concluded, amongst other things, that there was no nearby emergency shut-off switch to turn off the spa's suction pump in time to save John's life. Ultimately, Nicole watched her fiancée die before her eyes. John left behind two boys, ages 15 and 5, his fiancée, two sisters, a brother and his parents.

On May 12, 2011, John's family filed a complaint naming, amongst others, Sandals Resorts International, LTD ("Sandals"), which operates under various trade names in excess of 16 high-end resorts throughout the Atlantic and Caribbean, including the Royal Bahamian. The family alleges Sandals knew or should have known of the danger of suction entrapment and that Sandals should have taken steps to ensure that the spa was safe. They also claim that Sandals should have implemented safety procedures and trained its staff to better respond to this type of emergency. The family also claims the component parts making-up the spa's water circulation system were unreasonably dangerous and/or that these manufacturers violated safety standards, did not adhere to widely recognized industry practices and/or failed to adequately warn of the dangers posed by intense suction. The pool system component manufacturers include: Hayward Industries, Inc., A.O. Smith Corp., Pentair Water Pool & Spa, Inc. & Sta-Rite Industries, LLC.

Many children and even adults have been seriously injured or lost their lives due to suction entrapment. An article by Pool Spa News states, "Between January 1985 and March 2002, there were 147 confirmed, recorded suction entrapment incidences, according to Consumer Protection Safety Commission ("CPSC") records", 36 of which resulted in death. In a more recent memorandum, the CPSC reports there were 94 cases of suction entrapment from 1999 through 2009.

A few weeks before leaving for their planned romantic get-a-way at the Sandals Royal Bahamian Resort, John was awarded a Certificate of Appreciation from the UAW at the SUV Chassis Department of the Ford Plant in Kansas City, Missouri. The Certificate was in recognition of John saving a co-worker, Richard Jones, from serious injury and perhaps even death. The Certificate reads:

The leadership at the Kansas City Assembly Plant would like to thank you for your efforts and the assistance you gave your co-worker Mr. Jones on 11/19/2010 in the tire shop. By hearing your co-worker's call for assistance and responding, freeing him from between the tire line and tires you have set the example of being responsible for your brother's safety. The SUV Chassis Department would like to thank you. Mr. Van-Hoy you are greatly appreciated.

The family has engaged Brais & Associates in Miami to represent their interests. Within days of John Van-Hoy's death, Keith Brais, one of the attorneys for the family, posted a blog generally describing the incident and requesting that witnesses come forward. Shortly thereafter, Brais notified Sandals of its obligation to preserve all evidence and that a lawsuit would be filed given information that had been developed by the attorneys. In apparent response, Sandals chose to sue Mr. Brais personally, and his law firm, seeking $180 million for alleged damage to its reputation. Sandals' complaint was filed April 19th, 2011.

Mr. Brais' counsel, Robert Klein of Klein, Glasser, Park, Lowe and Pelstring in Miami has expressed the opinion that the suit by Sandals represents an, "unfortunate and ill advised preemptive claim", in an attempt to seize the initiative and to moderate the negative publicity that would undoubtedly be caused by the imminent filing of the wrongful death claim, once the horrific allegations surrounding the death of John Van-Hoy were brought to light. Klein has stated that he believes the suit is frivolous; particularly given years of adverse and often gruesome publicity about spa and pool suction outlet drain related death and injury claims, and the actual facts surrounding the loss of John Van-Hoy's life. For their part, the family's attorneys are undeterred by the Sandals' suit.

According to Keith Brais, the family's attorneys have located witnesses and additional information which he believes will corroborate the allegations in the wrongful death complaint and prove that Mr. Van-Hoy's death was 100% needless and preventable. In this regard, investigations have uncovered the existence of video depicting these tragic events. The video is approximately 45 minutes in length and is being held by attorneys representing the Van-Hoy family. For the time being, the family has asked that the video not be shared with the public in view of its graphic nature and highly emotional content. The video was taken from a balcony overlooking the Sandals hot tub / spa in which John lost his life.

Compounding matters for the Van-Hoy family, John's beloved grandfather passed away on April 27th, 2011. The family has asked that their privacy be respected and for the present time will not be providing any interviews of any kind to the media. The family has asked that all inquiries be directed to Keith Brais with Brais & Associates in Miami, Florida. Brais expressed hope "that John's legacy will be embodied by renewed efforts by all aquatic operators, particularly resort chains, to implement the multiple layers of protection consistent with pool industry standards and practices to prevent future suction entrapments. In particular, we hope Sandals will direct its efforts towards making their resorts safer."

We continue to request any witness to this tragic event contact the firm.

May 21, 2011

Filipino Crewmember Falls off Celebrity Cruises' Eclipse

The Southern Daily Echo reports a Filipino crewmember fell over the rails of the Celebrity cruise ship Eclipse on May 20th while the ship was sailing back to Southampton. The incident occurred 8 miles north of Cherbourg, France around 10.30pm. The French Coast Guard responded to the to a man overboard emergency call and searched the English Channel to no avail. The cruise ship was sailing a 14-night Italian Mediterranean cruise that departed Southampton on May 7.

May 17, 2011

Coast Guard Rescues 59-Year-Old Woman from Celebrity Cruise Ship Millennium

Cruise Ship Rescue.jpgThe Coast Guard reports an aircrew stationed out of Sitka, Alaska rescued a 59-year-old woman from Celebrity's cruise ship Millennium on May 15. In a press release the Coast Guard states "personnel at the 17th Coast Guard District command center in Juneau received a call from the medical officer aboard the Celebrity Millennium at approximately 10:21 p.m. requesting a medevac for the woman who was reportedly suffering from symptoms of a stroke."

A MH-60 Jayhawk rescue helicopter was launched and the rescue crew was able to safely medevac the woman. She was transported to Juneau where local emergency medical services were waiting to transfer her to Bartlett Regional Hospital. As of the printing this article, there is no word on the woman's condition.

May 15, 2011

Sickness Outbreak on Princess Cruise Lines Coral Princess

The Centers for Disease Control reports Princess Cruise Lines' ship Coral Princess sailed into Ft. Lauderdale on May 4 with 66 passengers and 3 crewmembers exhibiting signs of sickness. Under law, cruise lines must report sickness outbreaks when a certain amount of passengers and crew present to the ship's medical facility with gastrointestinal (GI) illness. The Coral Princess is the fourth cruise ship to report at a South Florida port with a sickness outbreak significant enough to warrant an investigation by the CDC.

An infected person can contaminate others with a GI illness for two or more weeks after the symptoms pass. Due to the confined nature of cruise ships, sickness, including Norovirus, can spread rapidly. To lessen the likelihood of a GI outbreak Cruise lines have a duty to properly maintain, clean and disinfect food storage units, trays, ice machines, plates and utensils.

In response to the outbreak, Princess Cruises took the following actions:

  • Increased cleaning and disinfection procedures according to their outbreak prevention and response plan;
  • Made announcements to both notify passengers and encourage case reporting;
  • Provide full service at all buffet and self-service food outlets;
  • Preparing a ship turnaround disinfection plan for the Fort Lauderdale arrival 4 May, and will submit to the CDC for review;
  • Making daily reports of gastrointestinal illness cases to the CDC.

May 13, 2011

Discovery Cruise Line to Suspend Service in September

Ft. Lauderdale, Florida based Discovery Cruise Line announced it will suspend its service to the Bahamas in September, 2011 so that its only cruise ship Discovery Sun can be refurbished.

Discovery's vice president and general manager Hanns J. Hahn stated: "While the ship is in safe operational order and complies with all United States Coast Guard and SOLAS requirements, it requires dry docking and refurbishment. A timetable for its return will be announced after further inspections are completed." The Discovery Sun currently sails six times a week from Port Everglades to Grand Bahamas Island.

May 13, 2011

Holland America Cruise Ship Westerdam Damaged after Hitting Ice in Alaska

Holland America's cruise ship, Westerdam, suffered damaged 15 feet below the waterline after hitting ice while maneuvering near Hubbard Glacier in Yakutat Bay, Alaska on May 11.

The Coast Guard is currently investigating the accident. The Seattle based cruise ship was met by the Coast Guard in Sitka, where the damage was inspected and allowed to continue on its scheduled itinerary. The Westerdam's hull was reportedly not breached and no injuries or pollution were reported.

May 4, 2011

Passenger Disappears from Celebrity Cruise Ship Millennium

The Los Angeles Times is reporting a 65-year-old woman is missing from the Celebrity cruise ship Millennium. The passenger was last seen aboard the Millennium as the cruise ship sailed into Cabo San Lucas, Mexico on the night of May 2nd.

Once a missing passenger is reported, maritime law requires the cruise line to perform a reasonable search and rescue operation. Rescue crews from the U.S. Coast Guard were searching for the passenger with a MH-60 Jayhawk helicopter from San Diego and a Hercules C-130 aircraft from Sacramento.

The Millennim was on a 15 day repositioning voyage from Fort Lauderdale, Florida to Vancouver, British Columbia.