Iowa man on catamaran that sank in Bahamas says crew failed passengers

It's shot by a native Iowa couple as they survived their catamaran sinking into the water near Paradise Island.
Published: Nov. 17, 2023 at 7:27 AM CST
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WAUKEE, Iowa (KCCI) - A Waukee, Iowa man and his wife said they survived the sinking of a catamaran they were on in the Bahamas on Tuesday despite a crew that didn’t know what to do.

The couple said the boat sank in shark-infested waters just off Paradise Island, near Blue Lagoon Island.

KCCI reports the ferry was transporting more than 100 tourists to a private island Tuesday when it started to go under.

A 74-year-old woman who was on the trip with her family died, and two others needed medical treatment.

Spencer Hess was on vacation with his wife and two kids when it happened. Hess is from Waukee, but is in the Navy and currently living in Norfolk, Virginia.

He said when the boat started to go down, his training kicked in, even though the crew’s training didn’t.

“Running away from passengers, running away from your post on the boat and not even giving any guidance whatsoever,” Hess said.

As water overtook the ferry, Hess said he helped some of the older passengers, including a Colorado woman, who later died.

“The gal who unfortunately passed away was the gal with the oxygen tank that I remember, and I said, ‘Do you have your oxygen tank? Are you good? Is it strapped to you?’ She said yes. I said, ‘OK, we need to move you.’ So I grabbed her, locked arms with her and started moving,” Spencer Hess said.

The passengers jumped off the ferry and were brought aboard another boat to be taken to Blue Lagoon Island.

Hess said the staff on the island knew what to do, but the crew on the ferry was a complete failure.

“This is my family. Like, I need to get my family off of this boat. Because it was supposed to be an enjoyable day going to the beach, enjoying lunch, just having a good time, on our vacation. Just a disaster,” Spencer Hess said.