On Sunday January 14, 2018 around 1600 hours, the Sun Cruz casino ship Tropical Breeze shuttle boat caught fire (see video below). One person, reportedly a 42-year-old woman is dead and 14 others injured after a fire engulfed the Tropical Breeze casino shuttle boat near Port Richey, Florida.
The shuttle boat had just left shore when the boat captain realized problems with the engine. He turned the boat back to shore and the engine began to smoke. The captain ground the boat with an estimated 50 passengers aboard.
One passenger reported, ““It smelled like an electrical fire, and then the crew came on and they started saying they were having engine issues, told us we needed to move up to the upper deck,”.
Passengers could be seen jumping overboard into the cold Gulf of Mexico ocean which was about four-feet-deep. Resident responded the disaster, bringing dry, warm clothing, hot liquids and some took passengers to their homes to await rescue.
About 15 people were taken to local hospitals after complaining of chest pain and smoke inhalation.
Port Richey is located 40 miles northwest of the Port Tampa Bay Cruise Terminal.
Sun Cruz Casinos was one of many cruise lines that offered “cruises to nowhere,” legally transporting passengers into international waters beyond the reach of federal and state gambling laws. Tropical Breeze departs from Port Richey at 11:00 am, 3;00 pm and 7:00 pm daily. Neither the Tropical Breeze website nor Facebook page make any mention of the deadly shuttle fire.
Video: Sun Cruz Casino Shuttle Boat Fire