An American tourist visiting Exuma was involved in a boating accident this Sunday, July 14th. According to police reports, a tour boat was sailing in Elizabeth Harbour, George Town when the captain felt something hit the rear of the boat. When they checked the water they discovered a male with injuries to his hand.
They retrieved the man from the water and transported him back to the Exuma medical facilities. He was briefly treated in Exuma before being airlifted to a hospital in New Providence. The man 63-year-old man was in serious condition and was airlifted to the United States on Monday. It has since been confirmed that the man lost his arm due to the injuries. Police state that the victim was not on the boat or apart of the tour.
This is just the latest maritime accident involving tourists. Just over a year ago, a chartered Four C’s Adventures tour boat’s engine exploded off the coast of Exuma. One American woman was killed and nine other’s were seriously injured, including a young girl that lost both her legs. Four C’s was not registered or inspected by Port Authority, and the owner and one of his captains are awaiting trial in 2020 over allegations of negligence.
The issue of water sports safety is not limited to just Four C’s though. Despite an increase of accidents, and the US placing a travel advisory on The Bahamas due to them, the Bahamas has not done much to increase safety.
After the Four’s C explosion, the official accident report concluded that the Port Department had inadequate staff and resources to properly control and regulate the commercial water crafts operating in Exuma. A majority of the tour companies operating were not registered, although most had submitted valid applications. Tourist is the driving force in Exuma, with many of its exciting activities such as the swimming pigs only accessible by boat. Charter companies looking to run a legal business are still being denied opportunities due to an understaffed department.
The Bahamian government only recently established a task force that would inspect all vessels operating in the tour boat industry. They have been slowly working their way through the family islands, but it seems their pace isn’t quick enough.
It is still unknown why the victim was swimming in the harbour, and whether or not he was visible to the boat’s captain. Right now this appears to be a tragic accident, but how many accidents can happen before tourists decide it’s not worth the risk and the nation suffers?