On June 30, 2018, a small tourist boat exploded in the Bahamas, killing at least one person and injuring 10 others. The tour boat explosion was reported shortly after 9:00 a.m. off the coast of Barraterre, Exuma. Exuma is a district which is composed of hundreds of small islands roughly 130 miles southeast of the Bahamian capital of Nassau.
According to various media reports, there were 12 people on board at the time of the boating accident, including 10 Americans and two Bahamian crew members. The small vessel was transporting tourists to visit the Exuma Kays to see the swimming pigs.
In the wake of the boat fire, witnesses said a plume of thick black smoke billowed from the 38-foot gas-powered boat as tourists frantically evacuated into the water. Several people from another boat moved quickly to offer aid.
Among the Americans aboard the small Bahamas tour vessel was 39-year-old Maleka Jackson and her husband, Tiran, from Chattanooga, Tennessee. The couple was on vacation in the Bahamas celebrating their 18th wedding anniversary. Mrs. Jackson tragically lost her life in the explosion, and her husband Tiran suffered severe life-altering injuries. A GoFundMe page has been set up to help the Jackson family in their time of need.
Another victim from the boating accident, 22-year-old Stephanie Schaffer, had both of her legs amputated and was listed in critical condition after the blast. Schaffer was vacationing in the Bahamas with her mother, sister, and stepfather. Her mother sustained multiple fractures and internal injuries. Her sister and stepfather sustained minor injuries. A GoFundMe page has also been set up to help the Schaffer family.
Some of the American victims were airlifted to hospitals in South Florida in the days following the explosion. Others remained in multiple hospitals in the Bahamas.
Tour Boat Accident Attorneys with Experience
If you or a loved one were harmed in the Bahamas boat explosion on June 30, 2018, it is in your best interest to speak with a lawyer who has experience litigating on behalf of American victims harmed on foreign tourism excursions.
The law firm of Baum Hedlund Aristei & Goldman has successfully represented American victims harmed in several foreign transportation accidents in Asia, Australia, North America, South America, and the Caribbean Islands.
Our firm represented several Americans in a tour bus crash involving a Mexican tour company. In that accident, the tour bus was traveling too fast when it swerved around a car on the side of the road and slammed into a power pole before bursting into flames.
We were retained by the families of three American passengers who tragically lost their lives and three others who sustained injuries. Despite fierce opposition trying to keep the case in Mexico, our attorneys were successful in obtaining United States jurisdiction in the case on behalf of our clients.
In another foreign transportation accident, Baum Hedlund Aristei & Goldman represented 22 American passengers harmed in a crash in England. Five of our clients were killed and 17 others were injured. During the litigation, our team of attorneys successfully argued that if a foreign tour is paid for in the U.S., the company should have to face U.S. laws, no matter where the incident occurred.
Our firm has also successfully represented passengers in dozens of international commercial aviation crashes.
In lawsuits stemming from foreign accidents, obtaining U.S. jurisdiction can make or break the case. If you decide to pursue legal action against a foreign company, you will need experienced legal representation to guide you through the process and fight to get your case heard in a U.S. court. We can help.
Contact us or call (855) 948-5098 today for a free case evaluation. We can answer any questions you may have and help you and your family decide if filing a claim is the right path.
Government Issues Cease and Desist Order Against Four C’s Adventures Following Explosion in the Bahamas
Bahamian Minister of Transport Frankie Campbell told the Nassau Guardian that a cease and desist order was issued against Four C’s Adventures, the tour company operating the boat that exploded. The government issued the cease and desist to ensure that other boats in the fleet are safe and that nothing impedes the investigation into the explosion.
Clayton Patterson Smith, the owner of the tour boat that exploded, told the media that Four C’s has been operating tour boats for 10 years with “a very safe record.” According to Smith, his company has never experienced an accident like the one that occurred on June 30.
Four C’s was registered in 2007 as a low-cost alternative to more expensive Bahamas boat charter companies offering tours around Exuma. Trips with Four C’s cost as little as $110 per person compared to other companies that charge thousands.
In a 2013 interview, Smith said his business had tripled its revenue within the span of two years. At the time, he expected to operate more vessels and hire more crews as business boomed. He also indicated that he worked closely with the Bahamas Ministry of Tourism and had partnered with the Grand Isle Resort, selling packages to tourists long before they arrived in the Bahamas.
Tourist Reveals Possible Clue in Bahamas Boat Fire
Katie Smith, an American tourist from Maryland, was on a Four C’s charter boat in the days prior to the explosion. According to Smith, the vessel that she was on seemed to be in good condition but was not necessarily new.
She told the Atlanta Journal Constitution that she felt safe on the boat but did recall one detail about her excursion. “There were extra gas tanks on the boat (near) the two drivers, but I’m not certain if they were filled.” Smith also said she was unsure if the charter boat she was on was the same one that caught fire on June 30.
The Exuma Police is leading the investigation into the cause of the tour boat explosion.
Updates on Bahamas Charter Boat Fire Investigation
Four C’s Adventures reportedly returned over $20,000 in bookings to tourists after the Bahamas government shut down the company, pending an investigation into the June 30 boat fire.
Elliot Lockhart, an attorney for Four C’s owner Clayton Patterson Smith, told the media that his client could face criminal charges and civil litigation in the wake of the explosion that killed one American tourist and injured nearly a dozen others. However, Lockhart maintains that Smith will defend his position that the explosion was an accident.
In an interesting twist, Lockhart also told the media that he strongly suspects foul play. “I spoke one on one with the captain of that boat,” Lockhart said, adding that he could “only conclude if this is not where he struck something in the water, then somebody sabotaged this boat.”
“Patterson Smith developed an entire business of going to see the (swimming) pigs, and the Exuma community and certain outside entities are now tapped into that. Boats are going every day but it was Patterson Smith’s brainchild. He came out of jail in Cuba, came home, designed this business. He is responsible for building his own vessels. Pat built those boats and designed his business and this is the first incident, he’s had many, many successful runs. This is a purely unfortunate accident.”