USCG Says Cruise Ship Captain Fell Asleep Before Crash

On Thursday, August 28, 2016 around 0230 hours,  Entertainment Cruises’ Spirit of Baltimore was involved in a collision in at Henderson Wharf Marina Fells Point Maryland. The cruise ship had taken more than 400 passengers on a Saturday Spirit After Dark Moonlight Cruise along the Patapsco River.

There were 412 passengers and 35 employees aboard at the time of the collision. Two passenger were reportedly injured enough to be taken to a local hospital.

The United States Coast Guard (USCG) has completed their investigation and determined the cause of the accident was due to the captain falling asleep at the helm. Court documents say he had worked three days in a row “on his own boat”, long hours and he was known to get sleepy when working overnight.  He was suspended after the incident then terminated. 

A lawsuit was filed on December 29, 2016 requesting a jury trial,  with 30 passengers party to the complaint. One couple, Maurice and Tonya Franklin are demanding one million dollars in damages in Maryland United States District Court case. Other claimants are asking for $5,000, $30,000, $50,000 or $75,000.

It is interesting to note, the lawsuit complaint says that at the time of the incident, crew only received injury reports from six passengers, with two of those requesting medical treatment.  The lawsuit further says, the cruise ship was travelling at 3 knots per hour (3.445 mph)at the time of the accident.

After the USCG published the cause of the accident and the original litigants published the required court notice in the Baltimore Sun newspaper and the complainants flooded in to add their names to the cases.

Ellen L. Hollander United States District Judge has ruled the total value of the complaint for all injuries can total no more than the value of the cruise ship, which is $1,850,000, according to Exhibit A, attached to the complaint.

While there are numerous lawyers involved in the case, Sumayyah Abdul-Hamid, Latisha Charise Morris and Nakenya Laruth Thomas are all represented by the same attorney; Devon Hogue and George Vaughn share one attorney; Antonio Bolar, Latanya Y. Dawson, Gregory A. Jones and Patrice Rooks all share one attorney are all three are listed as both defendants and claimants.

Video: Spirit of Baltimore collision