Families Suffer When Loved Ones Disappear on the Water

The CARNIVAL TRIUMPH was involved in yet another maritime accident on April 3 when high winds caused the cruise ship and several other barges to break loose from their moorings and collide with an adjacent pier, causing it to collapse. The story has not garnered the national attention that the TRIUMPH received when more than 3,000 passengers and over 1,000 crewmembers were stranded for nearly one week in the Gulf of Mexico following an engine fire on the cruise ship, but the most recent incident might not be without human cost.

WPMI-TV reported that 64-year-old John “Buster” Johnson, a rigger at BAE Systems in Mobile, Alabama, had been an employee at the shipyard for over 15 years and was planning to retire in December. Johnson and another man were standing on the pier that collapsed, and BAE said in a statement that both men fell into the water. The other man was rescued and treated for minor injuries, but Johnson remained missing.

“We’re just waiting, leaning and depending on each other and supporting each other and praying,” Johnson’s wife, Bernadette, told WPMI. “There’s a lot of praying.”

The US Coast Guard suspended its search the following morning, and Johnson’s sister-in-law, Catherine Perine, told the Press-Register that the family is “prepared for the worst” based on what they were told by representatives from the Coast Guard and BAE Systems. The US Occupational Safety and Health Administration said it was calling the accident a “fatal incident” and has opened an investigation into the circumstances surrounding it, but OSHA spokesman Mike D’Aquino told WorkBoat magazine that such probes can take up to six months.

Why Families of Missing Loved Ones Should Contact a Maritime Trial Lawyer

Unfortunately, many families of maritime workers across the nation find themselves in similar positions, hoping for the best but bracing for the worst after their loved one goes missing at sea. In Hartford, Illinois, officials suspended their search after a 49-year-old and 60-year-old man disappeared when their boat capsized in the Mississippi River on April 6. “Chances are highly bleak they will be found alive,” Hartford Assistant Chief Bill Owens said at a news conference the following evening.

In New Jersey, officials were unable to locate 23-year-old Josh Catlett after the 40-foot LINDA CLAIRE sank in the Delaware Bay on April 4. The Coast Guard said Catlett and two other men were dredging for crabs when the boat sank, and reports said none of the LINDA CLAIRE members were wearing life jackets, according to the South Jersey Times.

A failure to provide crewmembers with proper, functioning safety equipment could be grounds for an unseaworthiness claim. Families of seamen who fall overboard or go missing while working for a vessel could be entitled to compensation for loss of financial support and other damages under the Jones Act and general maritime law. Our Jones Act attorneys at Latti & Anderson LLP represent the families of maritime workers who died or went missing as a result of the employer’s negligence or the unseaworthiness of the vessel.

You can learn more about ship sinking cases  by visiting our website. If your loved one died while working at sea, contact our firm today at (800) 392-6072 to schedule an initial free consultation or enter your information in the form on this page to have our Jones Act lawyers review your case.

Latti & Anderson LLP – Jones Act attorneys