Sadly, there have been numerous unfortunate accidents involving cruise line accidents – but none as tragic as the sinking of the South Korean ferry that was carrying hundreds of passenger. There are many details as to the cause of the tragedy, but over 200 hundred people are still missing.
A Devastating Accident
The ferry capsized on April 16, 2014 off the coast of South Korea. It was headed to Jeju Island, the country’s biggest island. Jeju Island is South Korea’s most popular holiday island, attracting 10 million visitors annually. Authorities believe over 470 people were on board, 325 of which were high school students. Even though the odds are not in their favor, particularly after the entire ferry went underwater, rescuers scoured the murky, frigid waters for survivors.
The accident happened when the ship made an abrupt turn and began to list sharply to one side. Moments later the ferry began to sink. Over 160 passengers were rescued with the assistance of several dozen rescue vessels and helicopters. Unfortunately, it is likely hundreds of passengers got trapped as the water began to enter the vessel, keeping people inside. Initial reports indicate that the ferry sank due the carelessness of the captain and crew members for negligently driving the boat, as well as for their delayed evacuation efforts.
Upon further investigation, Korean prosecutors officially filed an arrest warrant for the captain and several crews members for their actions. The prosecutors allege the ferry likely capsized when it turned at too high a speed by undertaking an “excessive change of course without slowing down.” The captain and crew have also been charged with negligence in evacuation of the passengers.
Many would state that the alleged actions of the captain are legally and ethically unimaginable acts. If the ferry sunk due to high speed, the tragedy could have been completely avoided. And, a person can, and should, be held accountable for such actions, not only in the criminal justice systems, but also civil.
In civil cases, a wrongful death is said to have occurred when a person is killed due to the negligent or reckless actions of another. For a successful action, it is important to show that the death was caused by the negligent or willful action or omission of another. Momentarily ignoring jurisdictional legal differences, if this accident were governed by Pennsylvania law, families of the victims would want to prove that the captain and crew acted negligently while the passengers were in their custody. The captain and the crew allegedly told the passengers to stay in their rooms, and passengers remained until they were finally alerted to evacuate over 30 minutes later. It has been reported that the captain was one of the first to abandon the ship and make it safely to shore. And to add further disbelief, only one of 47 lifeboats were deployed. All of these facts indicate negligence.
At the moment, all efforts are focused on finding survivors, and supporting the families of the missing and victims. The wrongful death attorneys at Solnick & Associates, LLC send their deepest condolences to those affected by this tragedy. If you or a loved one has been injured by the reckless acts of another, please contact our office at (215) 481-9979 for a confidential consultation.
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