Casino boat catches fire near Tampa Bay, all passengers safe

Angelo Anderson
January 18, 2018

A 42-year-old woman who died after a casino shuttle boat caught fire off Florida's Gulf Coast was a Northeast Ohio native who grew up in Beachwood, a family member said.

Port Richey Chief of Police Gerard DeCanio says all passengers and crew were able to reach safety in Port Richie after the fire erupted Sunday afternoon.

Authorities in Port Richey, about 40 miles north of St. Petersburg, said immediately after the fire that more than a dozen people suffered non-life threatening injuries.

The shuttle boat caught fire about 4 p.m. Sunday, quickly engulfing the boat close to shore near residential neighborhoods.

The shuttle boat regularly carried people back and forth from the Tropical Breeze's offshore casino, about a 45-minute ride into worldwide waters.

The enterprise previously purportedly ran a similar operation off the coast of Texas but that this vessel had been closed by a bankruptcy court in 1992 before the entrepreneur launched the Mr Lucky gaming boat from the small Florida city of Tarpon Springs.

The 72-foot Island Lady was taking them out to the casino vessel in the gulf, where gambling is permitted past the three-mile global limit, when it experienced engine trouble. Its approximately 50 passengers were then purportedly scheduled to transfer to the Tropical Breeze Casino and enjoy a range of games including roulette and blackjack, which are illegal in the southern state's non-aboriginal casinos.

Jandali said passengers had to jump about 12 feet (3 meters) from the boat and wade through waist-deep water to shore. But he knew something was wrong when he saw smoke and heard shouts and screams.

"They didn't have much time to decide whether or not to jump", Jandali said. "It was a hard jump". He told the Times he invited about 30 passengers into his garage.

"They were bringing blankets and sheets and jackets to get those people warm", Fossa said. The shuttle hadn't gone far, and the boat got close enough to the shore to make escape manageable, he said.

"It was so windy and they were soaking wet", 57-year-old Santangelo reportedly told the newspapers. "They were so cold". "There was no inkling that there were any problems with that vessel whatsoever".

Other reports by Iphone Fresh

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