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Thursday, April 17 2014 @ 02:47 AM EDT

Lost at Sea Victim Sues Cruise Line For Passing By

Panama NewsA Panamanian man who survived 28 days at sea in a small disabled boat is suing Princess Cruise Lines because one of its ships failed to stop and help. Adrian Vázquez, the fisherman who watched his two companions die at sea, is alleging negligence by the cruise line in a lawsuit filed in a Florida state court by his Attorney Edna Ramos. The 18-year-old Vázquez and companions Fernando Osorio, 16, and Elvis Oropeza, 31, set off for a night of fishing on Feb. 24 from Rio Hato, a small fishing and farming town on the Pacific coast of Panama that was once the site of a U.S. Army base guarding the Panama Canal. The boat's motor broke down on the way back and the men drifted at sea for 16 days before seeing a cruise ship approach March 10. Vázquez has said the men signaled for help. "Tio, look what's coming over there," Vásquez recalled in an interview in April. "We felt happy, because we thought they were coming to rescue us."

But the ship did not stop, and the fishing boat drifted another two weeks before it was found. By then, Vásquez's two friends had died. "I said, 'God will not forgive them,'" Vásquez recalled. "Today, I still feel rage when I remember that." Princess Cruises has said passengers never told the ship's captain they saw a boat. Osorio and Oropeza died later. Vázquez was rescued on March 22 near Ecuador's Galapagos Islands, more than 600 miles from where they had set out.

Ramos said the lawsuit includes testimony from two cruise ship passengers who have said they saw the disabled boat and reported it to a cruise representative on the Star Princess liner. Passenger Jeff Gilligan, a birdwatcher from Portland, Oregon, has told journalists that he was among the first people to notice the small boat. Another birdwatcher, Judy Meredith of Bend, Oregon, has also said she saw the small open boat and through her bird-spotting scope could see a man waving what looked like a dark red T-shirt.

Meredith has said that she told a Princess Cruises sales representative what she and Gilligan had seen and that he assured her that he passed the news on to the ship's crew. The two passengers said they put the sales representative on one of the spotting scopes so he could see the small boat for himself.

Editor's Comment: I broke this story on 13 April 2012 with this article - Panama Castaways Were Spotted By Cruise Ship Passengers - And Ignored By Ship's Captain. Then I spent the better part of a week pushing the story and trying to get someone in the "big" news world to notice. My wonderful and dedicated regular readers helped by sending the articles I had published to their local news outlets. Finally it got picked up in Seattle and Portland. Then a couple of television stations got it. But then when the local AP guys here in Panama published the story, they cut me out and blew me off completely. They rewrote the story as if they had done it all themselves. And now that it's gone around the world twice - many of the news agencies are still cutting me out completely without a word, any reference to www.panama-guide.com at all, or credit. But hat's off to guys like CNN, BBC, and the Guardian who contacted me today, now that Adrian Vasquez has hired a lawyer and filed suit. Ironically, the AP guys contacted me when I was in Bocas researching the Yvonne Baldelli story, looking for information. I told them I would call right back. I wonder if they're still waiting. Oh yeah - (AP Photo/Tito Herrera) - see. Was that so hard?

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Lost at Sea Victim Sues Cruise Line For Passing By | 4 comments | Create New Account
The following comments are owned by whomever posted them. This site is not responsible for what they say.
Lost at Sea Victim Sues Cruise Line For Passing By
Authored by: Anonymous on Monday, May 14 2012 @ 03:24 PM EDT

Don,
You have done a great job on a story that could have been swept under the table... I hope that all the victims get major compensation, but I would love to see the captain of the ship and the crew get their walking papers. There's a cover-up in the story from the cruise line and I can't wait to hear all of the facts on a court of law.

Lost at Sea Victim Sues Cruise Line For Passing By
Authored by: Anonymous on Monday, May 14 2012 @ 04:50 PM EDT

Yep...just saw you on CNN...way to go...

Lost at Sea Victim Sues Cruise Line For Passing By
Authored by: Anonymous on Monday, May 14 2012 @ 06:50 PM EDT

" ...is alleging negligence by the cruise line... " Yes, the cruise line is 100% responsible for this. These highly-skilled, professional fishermen, in their state-of-the-art fishing boat did absolutely nothing wrong.

Lost at Sea Victim Sues Cruise Line For Passing By
Authored by: Anonymous on Tuesday, May 15 2012 @ 11:22 AM EDT

Well done Don you deserve a lot of credit for your persistence and perseverance of this story. I 'll await and like to see the outcome of all the facts since there might be ships' personnel such as Croupiers, Bartenders , Massage Therapist and Sales Representatives that would have no idea of recognizing a situation that requires the " Law of the Seas " and probably for the most part local fishermen called (Pescadores Artesanales) that by luck barely have a Personal Flotation Device , VHF Radio , Emergency Outboard Kicker or Flares for that matter I would not be surprised. Although there's a TRAGEDY here I salute you in your endeavors and I hope Justice prevails.........