Hughes should be charged with criminal negligence and manslaughter...
Roscoe Ortiz - Paramedic and Dive Instructor
November 12, 2002 at 14:27:56
Dale, your argument that the guests were responsible because they did not get off the boat does not hold up to scrutiny. First, you conveniently omitted the Patricia Rose quote from the same CDNN article by Freeman Washington which states that Peter Hughes Diving Inc kept the guests on the boat because a hotel was not available.
"Patricia Rose, spokesperson for Peter Hughes Diving in Miami, denied the crew had any choice stating, "...we could not put the guests in a hotel. We were forced to keep them on the boat," she added."
In other words, the Hughes "emergency response plan" was based on business as usual concerns about finding an equivalent level of accommodation rather than safeguarding customer lives from the threat of a deadly hurricane. That is not a responsible emergency response plan and that is why Hughes was criminally negligent. He followed your advice Dale: "Think positive and few bad experiences will come your way."
But prudent boat owners understand you cannot safeguard customer lives with cliches. You never "think positively" and hope that deadly Category 4 hurricanes will strike someplace else. You think realistically, you think defensely, and above all, you prepare for the worst with effective emergency preparedness plans. Fact is Hughes had no effective emergency response plan and the tragic result was the deaths of 20 innocent people.
Second, the Freeman Washington article does not state that Tony Zabaneh spoke directly with the guests, and according to reports, he did not. But even if he had, most guests on holiday in a distant country would defer to the judgement of the boat operator, a company you have described as the best.
Third, Wayne Hasson's comment that during hurricanes guests are safer on boats than land reveals exactly what Hughes and his employees were thinking and what they told the guests. As Hasson said in another CDNN report, "We rode out Hurricane Mitch tied up to this very same spot, and we were in well over 150-mph winds...we're not on an ocean here. It's like on a pond a mile and half up the river. The waves never got higher than two feet."