Survivor recounts Florida boat fire that led to woman's death

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By: Associated Press
January 16, 2018

11:55 a.m.

TAMPA, Fla. (AP) -- A survivor of a shuttle boat fire described a chaotic scene as passengers had to jump into the Gulf of Mexico.

Robert Handzus told The Tampa Bay Times Tuesday that the crew of The Island Lady casino shuttle moved passengers around the 72-foot wood-hulled vessel as fire began smoldering on both sides on Sunday. Fifty passengers then jumped ship, just off a residential area where neighbors provided shelter.

One of those who jumped into the water, Carrie Dempsey, died while being treated in a hospital that night. An autopsy has been scheduled to determine the cause.

Handzus, who has had military training, said he was calm during the chaos, but not all the passengers were.

9:06 a.m.

An autopsy has been scheduled to determine what caused the death of a 42-year-old woman hours after a casino shuttle boat caught fire in Florida.

The Pinellas-Pasco Medical Examiner's Office confirmed that Carrie Dempsey died Sunday night while being treated at Regional Medical Center Bayonet Point. An autopsy will be performed Tuesday.

About 50 passengers jumped into the chilly waters off Port Richey Sunday afternoon when the Island Lady caught fire on its way to a Tropical Breeze casino boat in the Gulf of Mexico, where gambling is legal.

Spokeswoman Beth Fifer says the company doesn't know what caused the fire that also injured 14 other passengers.

Hospital spokesman Kurt Conover says Dempsey went home after the fire, but arrived at the emergency room about 10 p.m. Sunday.

By: CBS News
January 14, 2018

PASCO COUNTY, Fla. -- 50 people were rescued from a Sun Cruz casino boat that caught fire near Port Richey, Florida, the Pasco County Sheriff's Office told CBS News on Sunday. They said the boat, named The Island Breeze, was going to a casino in international waters.

The office said the fire occurred about 100 yards off-shore, and at one point, there were more than 40 people in the water. The passengers have since been pulled out of the water and treated by officials, the office said.

CBS Tampa affiliate WTSP-TV reports that the Coast Guard, Florida Fish and Wildlife Commission also responded to the scene.

Video posted on Twitter shows the casino boat engulfed in flames:

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