NTSB Meeting to Determine Cause of Casino Shuttle Boat Fire

The fire in January 2018 destroyed the vessel and caused the death of one passenger.

The National Transportation Safety Board will hold a board meeting Dec. 11 to determine the probable cause of the Jan. 14, 2018, fire aboard the casino shuttle boat Island Lady in the waters of the Pithlachascotee River near Port Richey, Fla. One passenger died and 14 others were treated at area hospitals in the incident, which left the vessel so damaged that it was declared a constructive total loss.

The boat had 53 people aboard when, at about 4 p.m., the captain received a high-temperature alarm for the port engine's jacket-water system. The captain turned the vessel to return to the dock, according to the safety board. During the return trip, smoke began filling the lazarette, main deck spaces, and the engine room. The captain then intentionally beached the vessel close to shore in shallow water, and all passengers, crew, and company employees evacuated the Island Lady by jumping off the burning vessel and wading or crawling ashore.

A passenger named Carrie Dempsey, 42, was pronounced dead at 10:42 p.m. Jan. 14 while being treated at Bayonet Point Regional Medical Center, the Tampa Bay Times reported.

The U.S. Coast Guard is the lead investigative federal agency for the accident. Parties to the NTSB's investigation of it include Tropical Breeze Casino Cruz, LLC, Ring Power Corporation (the propulsion engine manufacturer's service representative), and the U.S. Coast Guard.

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