Cruise Bruise Investigates - A Christmas Cruise Tragedy
Ricky Tung Nguyen, 8, from Houston, Texas was sailing with his parents Jennifer and John Nguyen aboard Royal Caribbean Cruise Lines Liberty of the Seas for a Christmas celebration cruise, when he drowned
in a swimming pool aboard the cruise ship on December 21, 2015.
Liberty of the Seas had embarked from Galveston, Texas on Sunday December 18 for a 8-night Caribbean Christmas cruise and returned on December 26, 2016.
The family alleges in the lawsuit they filed November 28, 2016, that Liberty of the Seas was in "rough weather and high seas causing the boat to rock and pool water to splash out of the pools. The H2O Zone Waterpark should have been closed on the day of the subject drowning due to slip and/or trip and fall hazards associated with the rocking of the boat and splashing of pool water."
The lawsuit (H20 area photos were attached to lawsuit complaint, seen in our slider) further states that on the day of the subject incident and prior to the drowning, Jennifer Nguyen brought her 8 year old son to the H2O Zone Waterpark. While he was playing in the H2O Zone Waterpark, Jennifer was sitting in a lounge chair immediately adjacent to the waterpark. The next thing Jennifer Nguyen knew, her son's lifeless body was being pulled out of the pool located in the back of the H2O Zone Waterpark.
After her son was pulled out of the pool, a passenger began performing CPR on her son. A crewmember asked the passenger attempting to save the child’s life whether she was a doctor. When the passenger responded that she wasn’t, the crewmember told her to stop CPR and leave the area.
The shipboard doctor arrived more than five minutes after the couple's son was pulled out of the pool and performed CPR for more than 60 minutes.
Immediately following the drowning, Ricky Nguyen father, John Nguyen, was called while in his cruise ship cabin. John Nguyen arrived on the scene to find his son’s lifeless body laid out on the pool deck.
According to a public online obituary for Ricky Tung Nguyen, he had just turned 8, the month prior. The family is from Houston, Texas and his funeral was held on Saturday, January 02, 2016 at Our Lady of Lavang. Numerous fellow passengers who were also on the cruise, posted condolences to the family.
Ricky's parents. Jennifer and John Nguyen have filed a lawsuit nearly a year later on November 28, 2016, putting full blame on Royal Caribbean Cruise Line (RCCL) for the drowning death of their son. They are also suing all the doctors and nurses on the cruise ship for not saving their son after he was pulled from the water by other passengers. There is the key fact in this case, which screams loud and clear who failed Ricky and why he is dead. "other passenger pulled Ricky from the water", not Jennifer or John who were both out of arm's reach from Ricky in a swimming pool rocking and rolling from rough seas.
The responsibility for ensuring children can swim resides 100% with the parent. Jennifer and John Nguyen had at least six years to ensure their son could swim proficiently. His parents, Jennifer and John Nguyen have filed a lawsuit nearly a year after his death on November 28, 2016, putting full blame on Royal Caribbean Cruise Line (RCCL) for the drowning death of their son. If Ricky had any swim lessons at all, he apparently hadn’t reached a proficiency level compatible with a water focused vacation.
When reading the lawsuit, consider this important fact regarding the sad death of Ricky Nguyen. The child drowned on the third day
of the cruise. The cruise ship was deep in the Caribbean by then. Jennifer and John Nguyen had already been on the ship for three days and nights, had time to sleep on the issues surrounding the safety of their son while aboard the ship and likely had been at the pool each day prior. They were aware by then, if they weren't aware from the posted signs around the swimming pool on day one, two and three, that there were no lifeguards on the cruise ship and they needed to actively parent, protect and supervise their son, all of the time. Yet, neither one were holding his hand and were in the water with him to ensure this non-swimmer's safety.
It's worth noting, the lawsuit demands a jury trial. The jury will be asked to assign a percentage of fault for RCCL and for Jennifer and John Nguyen. By adding as many other elements of compensation as possible, such as the anticipated earnings of child for the rest of his natural life, it increases the end amount the Nguyens will get no matter how much blame is given to then, and increases the amount the attorney will get in his share.
The lawsuit makes a few really GOOD valid points though, which we need to acknowledge. First, the lawsuit alleges that Disney Cruise Line has lifeguards on their ships, yet Royal Caribben Cruise Line doesn't, as if in either case this affects the responsibility of children’s parents to supervise their own child aboard cruise ships. Disney Cruise Line's lifeguards are a well-documented, publicized fact. So, one has to wonder, why was this family was on a Royal Caribbean Cruise Line cruise, instead of a Disney Cruise Line cruise?
Second, it's states facts obvious to all parents BEFORE they book a cruise on any cruise ship, anywhere around the world, "If a child drowns aboard a cruise ship, there are no ambulances, there are no hospitals and there are certainly no state of the art lifesaving medical equipment aboard the ship. The only chance a drowning victim has aboard a cruise ship is a fast medical response. At any given time on a cruise ship there is approximately one doctor on duty who is stationed at the shipboard medical center located multiple deck levels away from the pool area. It takes at least five minutes for the shipboard doctor to reach a drowning victim at the pool area." Boom!
Third the lawsuit states, "In May 2015, a 10-year-old girl drowned on the Norwegian Gem. In 2014, a 4-year-old boy drowned on the Norwegian Breakaway. In 2013, it a 6-year-old boy drowned in the Jacuzzi on the Carnival Victory." Another good point, those recent cases had been in the news heavily, they were well-known incidents, published by the media around the world. Cruise Bruise investigated all three child drownings
and published the results to the world, as well in May 2015, a full six months before this incident. In fact,the law firm which filed this case, covered the cases in their blog. How much public information do parents need before parenting common sense prevails?
The lawsuit also states, "RCCL’s knowing and intentional failure to provide lifeguards at children’s swimming pools is a deliberate and reckless infliction of mental suffering on the Plaintiffs. It is outrageous
and shocking beyond the bounds of all decency that a multi-billion dollar corporation can hold itself out as having “kid friendly” cruises and yet fail to provide even the most basic safety measures at swimming pools that are designed for children and are an attractive nuisance to children. Simply stated, RCCL is literally luring children into its swimming pools knowing that many have drowned, will drown, and knowing that the incident(s) could easily be prevented". We agree all cruise ship child drownings to date, including this one, could have been prevented. But, the responsibility lies with the parents. If the parents had remained with their child, supervised the child, as the passenger contract they signed requires, no such drownings would have occurred.
What the lawsuit does not say is this. July 14, 2015, around 8:00 pm, a 3-year-old boy drowned in a pool at Disney's Art of Animation Resort. The child, who was visiting with his family from New York, somehow became separated from his parents. After a search, the child was found underwater. A Disney representative said lifeguards were on duty at the time of the drowning. Providing a lifeguard in no way ensures the safety of children, only parents can do that. If the child is in the water, the parent should be too, at arm's length, nothing less. Jennifer Nguyen was sitting on a deck chair, nearby. She was not in the water with her son.
At this point, I need to pause on the topic of actively parenting children while on cruise ships. Only this past week, we posted the case of a Texas teenager who was on deck with some other teens, his parents are nowhere to be found. While one person filmed a video, another teen crawled over Carnival Liberty's railing during a Caribbean cruise out of Galveston, Texas. In the video, the teen is seen dangling above the ocean, as the ship makes it way back to Galveston. The video is shocking and horrifying. But, it demonstrates along with this case, the dangers children face on cruise ships when they are not supervised by the parents.
The Facts Not Written in the Lawsuit: ROYAL CARIBBEAN CRUISE LINE TICKET CONTRACT
"8. PASSENGER’S OBLIGATION TO COMPLY WITH AGREEMENT, APPLICABLE LAWS, AND RULES OF CARRIER; QUARANTINE; INDEMNIFICATION:
(d). Each adult Passenger undertakes and agrees to supervise at all times any accompanying minors to ensure compliance with the provisions of this Section 8.
Passenger’s conduct or presence, or that of any minor for whom the Passenger is responsible, is believed to present a possible danger, security risk or be detrimental to himself or the health, welfare, comfort or enjoyment of others, or is in violation of any provision of this Agreement. f. Passenger, or if a minor, his parent or guardian, shall be liable for and indemnify Carrier, the Vessel and the Transport from any civil liability, ﬁnes, penalties, costs or expenses incurred by or imposed on the Vessel, the Transport or Carrier arising from or related to Passenger’s conduct or failure to comply with any provisions of this Section 8, including but not limited to: (i) any purchases by or credit extended to the Passenger; (ii) requirements relating to immigration, customs or excise; or (iii) any personal injury, death or damage to persons or property caused directly or indirectly, in whole or in part, by any willful or negligent act or omission on the part of the Passenger.
11. LIMITATIONS OF LIABILITY
(b). PASSENGER AGREES TO SOLELY ASSUME THE RISK OF INJURY, DEATH,ILLNESS OR OTHER LOSS, AND CARRIER IS NOT RESPONSIBLE FORPASSENGER’S USE OF ANY ATHLETIC OR RECREATIONAL EQUIPMENT; OR FOR THE NEGLIGENCE OR WRONGDOING OF ANY INDEPENDENT CONTRACTORS,INCLUDING BUT NOT LIMITED TO PHOTOGRAPHERS, SPA PERSONNEL ORENTERTAINERS; OR FOR EVENTS TAKING PLACE OFF THE CARRIER’S VESSELS, LAUNCHES OR TRANSPORTS, OR AS PART OF ANY SHORE EXCURSION, TOUR OR ACTIVITY.
c. CARRIER HEREBY DISCLAIMS ALL LIABILITY TO THE PASSENGER FOR DAMAGES FOR EMOTIONAL DISTRESS, MENTAL SUFFERING OR PSYCHOLOGICAL INJURY OF ANY KIND UNDER ANY CIRCUMSTANCES, WHEN SUCH DAMAGES WERE NEITHER THE RESULT OF A PHYSICAL INJURY TO THE PASSENGER, NOR THE RESULT OF PASSENGER HAVING BEEN AT ACTUAL RISK OF PHYSICAL INJURY, NOR WERE INTENTIONALLY INFLICTED BY THE CARRIER. WITHOUT LIMITING THE PRECEDING SENTENCE, IN NO EVENT WILL CARRIER BE LIABLE TO PASSENGER FOR ANY CONSEQUENTIAL, INCIDENTAL, EXEMPLARY OR PUNITIVE DAMAGES.
Common Problem: Other 2015 Vacation, Hotel, Resort Child Drowning Deaths
January 26, 2015, Noah Beckley, 7, drowned at the Milwaukee, Wisconsin Comfort Suites during a birthday party. The Medical Examiner's Office says the boy jumped into the water -- but he could not swim. The boy was pulled from the water three to five minutes
after jumping in, and he was resuscitated. He was then taken to Milwaukee Children's Hospital, where he died.
May 29, 2015, around 5:15 pm, John Robert Rosario, 6, from Salemburg, North Carolina, drown during a family reunion at the Oriental Marina and Inn swimming pool. The drowning happened in the shallow end of the pool in just three feet of water. In a statement on the incident, Pamlico County Sheriff Chris Davis encouraged parents and family members to be vigilant while children are playing near water. "I think the most important thing is to pay attention and be involved with the kids while they're swimming," he said. "All it takes is a minute if you're not paying attention."
June 14, 2015, Muhammad Syafizul Danyal Muhammad Shaffie, 7, had ventured into a deep section of the pool at Resorts World Sentosa's Hard Rock Hotel, where he drowned. State Coroner Marvin Bay ruled Syafizul's death to be a "sad misadventure".
July 5, 2015, Gabriel Guzman, 2, drowned at the Oceanside Inn in Daytona Beach Shores, Florida during the Fourth of July weekend celebration. Daytona Beach Shores Police Sgt. Mike Fowler says surveillance video shows that no one noticed the boy underwater for nine minutes. This was the 7th pool drowning involving a child in Volusia County, Florida in 2015. In all 7 cases, the children were 4 years of age or younger.
August 20, 2015, around 8:50 pm, Riahnna Alegria, 4, from Rockford, Illinois drowned in the Gurnee Holiday Inn swimming pool. Alejandra DeLuna, 26, who was not at the pool but rushed to the hospital, said she is unsure who first spotted Riahnna underwater and doesn't know who pulled her out. DeLuna, Riahnna's mother, said it appears no one noticed Riahnna had gone under until it was too late. "I'm not blaming anyone," she said.
August 24, 2015, a six-year-old boy drowned in the Crowne Plaza Jordan Dead Sea Resort & Spa main swimming pool. He was pulled from the pool dead and transported to a local hospital.
Earlier Child Vacation, Hotel, Resort Drowning
July 16, 2011, around 9:30 pm, Ron-Deja Lynn Stevenson, 6, drowned at the Holiday Inn Lakeview in Clarksville, Indiana. Ron-Deja was with family members for a party. Everyone was headed back to their hotel room when they realized Ron-Deja was not with them. They went back to the hotel pool and found her at the botttom of the pool. This incredible, child pool death case summarizes all too well how children drown in cruise ship, resort and hotel swimming pools, when parents are not paying attention to their children.
Unintentional Drowning: Get the Facts
According to the Centers for Disease Control and Prevention, National Center for Injury Prevention and Control, Division of Unintentional Injury Prevention (CDC), every day, about ten people die from unintentional drowning. Of these, two are children aged 14 or younger. Drowning ranks fifth among the leading causes of unintentional injury death in the United States.
From 2005-2014, there were an average of 3,536 fatal unintentional drownings (non-boating related) annually in the United States — about ten deaths per day. An additional 332 people died each year from drowning in boating-related incidents.
About one in five people who die from drowning are children 14 and younger. For every child who dies from drowning, another five receive emergency department care for nonfatal submersion injuries.
More than 50% of drowning victims treated in emergency departments (EDs) require hospitalization or transfer for further care (compared with a hospitalization rate of about 6% for all unintentional injuries). These nonfatal drowning injuries can cause severe brain damage that may result in long-term disabilities such as memory problems, learning disabilities, and permanent loss of basic functioning (e.g., permanent vegetative state).
Cruise Bruise Investigates finds, in all of these child drowning death cases, the two main reasons for the unfortunate deaths.
(1) The parent failed to ensure the child had been trained to be a proficient swimmer prior to visiting a swimming pool.
(2) The parents or adults supervising the child failed to provide continuous supervision of the child while at the pool.
Sadly, every holiday these families will be reminded that one child is missing from the holiday celebration due to the preventable drowning death of a child. This is a reminder to all parents that being a parent is a difficult, life long job that can be lost in a single moment of not paying attention.