Lone Survivor Sues Princess Cruises Over Failed Rescue

Mike Schuler
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May 14, 2012

A Panamanian fisherman who was rescued after 28 days adrift at sea is suing the owners of the cruise ship that he says sailed right past him and his two friends bobbing  in the Pacific Ocean while all three were still alive.

According to media reports, Adrian Vasquez, 18, has filed a lawsuit in Miami, Florida that alleges negligence on behalf of Princess Cruises after one of their cruise ships, the Star Princess, failed to respond to the 3 three fisherman who had been spotted and reported to crewmembers by the ships passengers.

As the story goes, Vasquez and two of his friends, 16 and 24 respectively, had set off from the port of Rio Hato in Panama for an afternoon fishing trip aboard their 10-foot fishing boat, Fifty Cents.  All was as planned until the boats engine died, setting the trio adrift well off in the Pacific Ocean.

Sixteen days later, with all three still alive but severely dehydrated, the group spotted the Star Princess, a 109,000 gross ton cruise ship sailing from Chile to San Francisco, and began frantically waving for help. Aboard the Star Princess, three passengers out birdwatching spotted the boat and notified crewmembers of what they saw and their concerns, but the cruise ship sailed on.

Two of the boys died after the encounter with the ship and Vasquez was eventually picked up near the Galapagos Islands, alive but barely.

What happened after the initial report from the passenger is still being investigated, but it has been reported that crew members themselves may have seen the distress signals and reported to the ships bridge, although no log of the incident was ever recorded.   One of the witnesses was allegedly so convinced she later emailed the USCG to let them know what she saw, even though she acknowledged it was not in their jurisdiction.  She never heard back.

In a statement, Princess Cruises said there appeared to have been a “breakdown in communication in relaying the passenger’s concern” and notes that the company and its employees understand that a responsibility and the law of the sea is to provide assistance to any vessel in distress.

Meanwhile, the ships captain, Captain Edward Perrin, insists that neither he nor the officer of the watch were notified of the incident.

Now it’s up to the courts to decide.

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