Princess Cruise Lines Let Stranded Fishermen Die, Children Claim

     MIAMI (CN) – A Princess luxury cruise ship failed to pick up fishermen who had been stranded at sea for 15 days, the children of a fisherman who died claim in federal lawsuits.
     The sole survivor of the little fishing boat, 18-year-old Adrian Vasquez, sued Princess Cruise Lines in May. His two companions, Elvis Antonio Oropeza Diaz and Fernando Osorio, both died after the $430 million cruise ship refused to rescue them, though passengers and at least one crew member saw them, Oropeza’s children claim in their new lawsuits.
     The three children of Oropeza, who was 31, each is represented by a different mother in their virtually identical complaints.
     Oropeza, Vasquez, and Osorio, 16, lost power on a commercial fishing voyage from Rio Hato, Panama, and drifted out to sea in their boat, the Fifty Cents.
     The boat had been adrift for 15 days when it crossed paths with Princess Cruises’ ship Star Princess, according to the complaint.
     Though at least four people on the luxury cruise ship saw the fishermen’s distress, the ship did not offer assistance, the children say.
     “When the three fishermen saw the cruise ship they did everything in their power to signal that they were in distress and in need of rescue, including inter alia waving their arms and waving a shirt tied to a pole,” the complaint states.
     “Three passengers aboard the Star Princess who were bird watching at the time spotted the Fifty Cents and concluded that the vessel was in distress and that the men on board were signaling for rescue.
     “These three cruise passengers immediately reported the distressed boat to a crewmember of the Star Princess who in turn reported this emergency situation to the bridge. This same crewmember also visually confirmed the distressed boat for himself.”
     The Star Princess is “an extremely modern 109,000 ton cruise ship built at a cost of over $430 million, with the most sophisticated navigational, radar and tracking equipment,” and a trained crew, Oropeza’s children say.
     However, “Despite this clear notice of a boat in distress, as well as the fact that the small fishing vessel was in clear view of the mammoth cruise ship, said Star Princess failed to discharge its duty to render assistance to the distressed vessel and its occupants,” according to the complaint.
     The children say Osorio died later that day, and their father five days later.
     “Notably, two days after the sighting incident of March 10, 2012, the three passengers who witnessed the distressed boat followed up with an officer of the Star Princess,” according to the complaint. “They all confronted this officer with the information and as asked him what had happened to the distressed boat they reported. This officer did not have an answer for them and walked away without explanation.”
     Vasquez was rescued after 28 days near the Galapagos Islands.
     The plaintiffs seek damages for negligence, breach of the duty to rescue, pain and suffering and loss of consortium.
     They are represented by Philip Parrish, with Dickman, Epelbaum & Dickman, of Coral Gables.

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