Thursday, July 11, 2019
By AVA TURNQUEST
Tribune Chief Reporter
THE family of the American woman killed in a shark attack while swimming off Rose Island in June has claimed the tour company had no basic medical supplies and did nothing to attempt to save the college student’s life.
Californian Jordan Lindsey, 21, pictured, was savaged by sharks while swimming with her mom near Rose Island on June 26.
Relatives blasted tour company, Sandy Toes Bahamas, in a joint statement released on Tuesday, detailing the ordeal and allegations of inadequate emergency response.
The company - which offers excursions, private events and weddings alongside its beach bar and luxury villa on Rose Island - yesterday maintained all reasonable steps were taken to prevent the incident.
The family’s claim follows a recent stakeholder meeting staged by the Tourism Development Corporation (TDC) to discuss the development of emergency protocols and regulations for the water sport industry.
The family statement read: “Although nothing can change the outcome of the tragedy we’ve suffered, our hope in speaking out is that mandatory safety measures are put in place, so this is less likely to happen again. We also want tourists to know that when booking a tour, while the excursion company may have great reviews, it may not have basic safety measures or first aid equipment in place.”
The entire Lindsey family was on the Rose Island day-trip excursion, but only Jordan and her mother, Kami, were snorkelling at the time of the attack.
“The shark(s) were not seen by anyone, to our knowledge, until the attack,” the statement read.
“Fortunately, Jordan’s siblings, father and her long-time girlfriend did not witness the attack. It was widely reported the family saw the shark(s) in the water and yelled to Jordan, but she did not hear them.”
According to the statement: “When Jordan and Kami entered the water, they were acknowledged by two staff members who were finishing their lunch on land, but no staff members or guides entered the water with them. During the attack, Jordan and her mother were inside, but at the far end of, a roped-off snorkelling area.
“Other snorkellers were a good distance away from where the attack occurred and once the attack happened, they scrambled out of the water.”
Despite some news reports that said Sandy Toes’ staff members jumped into the water, the family said they did not and no boat arrived to help during the attack.
“Shockingly, no staff mobilized to assist in any way,” the statement said.
Two staff members called over from a nearby rocky hill, urging Kami and Jordan to swim to them; they had no medical or emergency supplies, the statement said.
“As they tried to swim toward each other and toward the rocky hill, a shark came between them and again attacked Jordan. By this time, Kami was able to grab Jordan’s hand and drag her to the rocky shore where the staff members pulled both of them out of the water
“Once out of the water, there was no medical attention provided to Jordan.
“They had no first aid kit - no basic supplies for any type of injury. It felt like a lifetime as they waited for a boat to arrive. When the small boat arrived, it contained only a bench and a staff member driving.”
Jordan’s father, siblings and girlfriend did not witness the attack and relatives say staff did not clear the beach or notify the rest of the family.
“Rather,” the family’s statement read, “(relatives) overheard conversations from others that had been snorkelling and when they noticed people crying, realising the severity of what had happened and soon after, concluded that it was their precious Jordan who the snorkellers were crying for.”
After last week’s stakeholder meeting, TDC CEO and Executive Director Janet Johnson told The Tribune there were growing concerns over the need for regulations, specifically emergency drills and protocols.
“It was just an initial coming together to talk about emergency protocols and those sorts of things that may have happened and to look at putting some rules and regulations in place,” Ms Johnson said last week.
“I think some good stuff came out of it. People feel that we need to put some regulations in place and that we need to start doing drills and things so that we have emergency protocols in place for when things happen. We’re a water-based destination, a lot of our tours are water based.“
Sandy Toes was among organisations represented at the tourism stakeholder meeting, alongside the Bahamas National Trust, the Port Department, the Marina Association, Blue Lagoon, Stuart’s Cove, the Bahamas Dive Association, the Department of Fisheries, and the Bimini Shark Lab.
A follow-up meeting is planned for later this month.
Yesterday, Sandy Toes’ issued a statement read: “We would once again like to extend our deepest and sincerest condolences to the family and friends of Jordan Lindsey who recently passed away as a result of a shark attack in waters near Rose Island in the Bahamas.
“All reasonable steps were taken to prevent this very unfortunate incident and our staff responded swiftly and in line with our emergency protocols and procedures.”
The statement added: “We continue to pray for the Lindsey family and all those who have been impacted by this tragic occurrence.”
Lindsey’s death was the first confirmed shark-related death in the Bahamas since 2008, although the country traditionally records several shark attacks per year.
A GoFundMe campaign set up to cover travel and funeral expenses for Lindsey has raised more than $75,000 in less than two weeks.
Another American, Jonathan Hernandez, told NBC reporters he survived a shark bite in Abaco just days before Lindsey’s tragedy.