Articles Posted in Sporting and Tour Boat Injuries

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News broke yesterday of a horrific physical and sexual assault of a female passenger by a crewmember aboard Holland America’s cruise vessel Nieuw Amsterdam.  The altercation allegedly began because the 31-year-old passenger offended the crewmember when he delivered breakfast to her room.  The crewmember allegedly knocked three times before the passenger acknowledged him, and then from outside the room he heard a woman’s voice shout, “Wait a minute, son of a bitch!”  She later opened the door and the crewmember left the food.

The crewmember returned to the woman’s room later that day, but no one answered and he left.  That same evening, he sought after the woman on deck, “in order to punch her in the face for insulting him that morning.”  After realizing the location was too crowded, he left.

That night, the crewmember used his master key to enter the passenger’s room, and went onto the balcony to wait for her to return.  Upon her return, the crewmember is alleged to have attacked the woman, choking and punching her with whatever was available, including a laptop and a curling iron.  The passenger defended herself with a corkscrew.  The fight progressed to a balcony, where the crewmember is alleged to have tried to push the woman overboard.  The woman was finally able to break free, and escaped her room.  She got help from another passenger.

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In the waters of Puget Sound, the Columbia River, Washington coast, Oregon coast, and Alaska, whale watching excursions, sporting fishing trips, and other commercial boating tours are popular with tourists and recreational fishermen.  People come from all over the world to see the beauty of Northwest waters.  Unfortunately, these excursions can be dangerous if proper safety measures are not taken by the vessel operators.  A vessel operator has a legal duty under maritime law to exercise reasonable care to prevent injuries to passengers on its vessels.  This includes adopting procedures to limit access to certain areas of the vessel in heavy weather conditions and to limit the speed of the vessel while traveling through heavy seas or wave conditions.

On March 21, 2013, the U.S. Coast Guard issued a marine safety alert to operators of passenger vessels that allow passengers to ride in the bow during heavy weather.  The alert followed several injuries to passengers on a whale-watching excursion.  The passengers were injured while standing in the bow pulpit of a 106’ inspected whale watching vessel while it was underway.  The vessel encountered a large wave and the bow of the vessel rose out of the water and then came down hard.  As the vessel came down, several passengers standing in the bow pulpit area were thrown, resulting in injuries.

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