One woman has died following a Sunday fire aboard a casino shuttle boat that was in the Gulf of Mexico near Florida.
According to Fox News, more than 50 passengers on the boat were forced to jump overboard into shallow water.
The shuttle boat ferries people to and from the Tropical Breeze Casino Cruise, which is located offshore because it can only legally operate in international waters.
Kurt Conover, spokesman for the Regional Medical Center Bayonet Point, said Monday that the woman who died late Sunday had survived the incident and gone home, but returned to the hospital’s emergency room after she became ill hours later. Conover also reported that 14 others were injured due to the fire, experiencing chest pain, smoke inhalation and other maladies. Eight people treated at Bayonet Point have been released, Conover said.
— New Port Richey PD (@NPRPD) January 14, 2018
Larry Santangelo, 57, said he had just driven into his neighborhood when he saw that the boat, which was located approximately 100 yards offshore, was ablaze.
“It was so windy and they were soaking wet,” said Santangelo, adding that he worried that some of the victims might suffer from hypothermia.
Santangelo brought approximately 30 passengers into his garage help them get warm.
“They didn’t have much time to decide whether or not to jump,” said Bakr Jandali, 19, who was at his nearby home when he noticed the blaze. “The fire was moving fast. It was a hard jump.”
— USCGSoutheast (@USCGSoutheast) January 14, 2018
Port Richey Chief of Police Gerard DeCanio said that, prior to the boat bursting into flames, the crew of detected engine problems and decided to turn back.