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Royal Caribbean Sued Over Cruise Ship Passenger Who Was Left to Die

The wife of a father-of-four who died after diving off a pier in Honduras during a cruise last year is suing Royal Caribbean.
Edmund Rucker, 52, died on March 15, 2023, when the Allure of the Seas was docked at Roatan, an island off the coast of Honduras, during a week-long cruise. A fellow cruise passenger who was among three people who pulled Rucker ashore after he jumped off the pier told Newsweek last year that it had taken almost an hour for medical personnel to arrive on the scene.
Rucker’s wife, Laura Rucker, is now suing Royal Caribbean, alleging the cruise line acted recklessly by encouraging passengers to take part in excursions in Roatan at a time when there were work stoppages and strikes in the health and public safety sectors in Honduras.
“What happened to Eddie Rucker and his family is unconscionable,” Mitch Chusid, the family’s lawyer, told Newsweek.
“Passengers on cruise ships need to be made aware that cruise lines often worry about their bottom line at the risk of jeopardizing the health and well-being of the people that choose to travel with them.”
Royal Caribbean “knew that there were strikes in Honduras in the healthcare sector and chose to dock at Roatan anyway because of the revenue generated at this port of call,” Chusid said.
“This resulted in inexcusable delay in emergency medical care available to Mr. Rucker, his tragic death and forever changed the lives of Laura Rucker and her four children.”
Newsweek reached out to Royal Caribbean for comment via email.
Rucker and his family researched Royal Caribbean excursions in Roatan before their cruise, according to the lawsuit filed in the United States District Court for the Southern District of Florida on Thursday.
They had decided to purchase tickets to one called “Zip Line Adventure & Beach Escape Roatan, Honduras,” but it was sold out when they went to pay.
“A nearly identical excursion” was being offered to passengers on the Allure of the Seas through ShoreExcursioneer, the complaint said, so the Ruckers purchased the tickets.
The complaint said the family were “at no point advised” that the ShoreExcursioneer and the excursion was owned and operated by South Shore Adventures, based in Cozumel, Mexico, and Foster’s West Bay Resort, based in Roatan, both of which are listed as defendants alongside Royal Caribbean.
After the zip line portion of the excursions were complete, participants were taken to West Bay beach where they were offered “the ability to use an elevated wooden platform for recreational purposes, such as jumping and diving into the deeper waters at the beach.”
Rucker, described as a “very active outdoorsman” and experienced diver who trained as a United States Marine, and the couple’s minor daughter decided to use the wooden pier and platform, the complaint said.
She “jumped first from the Platform into the water,” the complaint said.
“After she was safely out of the water, and about half-way back on the wooden pier, [Rucker] dove head first into the water.”
“He struck his head below the water and suffered a severe blow to his head. Once his body hit the water, [he] was rendered unconscious.”
Rucker was pulled ashore by Jeremy Lewis, who was also traveling with his family on the Allure of the Seas, and other tourists. They performed CPR “for nearly one hour but were unable to keep him alive until emergency medical care arrived,” the complaint said.
Rucker “failed to receive timely medical care as it took nearly an hour for medical personnel to arrive on the scene” and his family “watched in shock and disbelief” as he lost his life.
“We were having to do regular CPR. There was no defibrillator,” Lewis told Newsweek last year.
“This is a big beach with a lot of resorts and there was no medical help at all. It was at least 50 minutes before a medical person got there…there was no way to keep him alive that long.”
Royal Caribbean ship Allure of the Seas is seen in Nassau, Bahamas, on April 29, 2019. The wife of a man who died during a stop in Honduras during a cruise on the Allure of… Royal Caribbean ship Allure of the Seas is seen in Nassau, Bahamas, on April 29, 2019. The wife of a man who died during a stop in Honduras during a cruise on the Allure of the Seas last year is suing Royal Caribbean. More Daniel Slim/AFP via Getty Images
Rucker’s family was subjected to “unspeakable and severe emotional trauma” as they placed towels over his dead body, which lay on the beach for at least four hours due to the delayed response by the coroner’s office.
The defendants “knew, or in the exercise of due care should have known, that if passengers were injured beyond the point of debarkation in Roatan, Honduras, while participating in any excursion or sightseeing, including the SE and RC Zip and Beach Excursions, they would be at great risk and unlikely to receive timely medical care because of the local labor unrest,” the complaint said.
They “acted with reckless disregard to the health and well being of family members, knowing that if a passenger died while participating in any Roatan, Honduras excursion or at a Royal Caribbean recommended local attraction, the family of the deceased would suffer severe emotional distress waiting with the dead body of the loved one for an inordinate amount of time for the medical coroner’s office to respond,” it said.
“At no time did any of the Defendants warn [Rucker and his family] about these work strikes and/or the expected delay in medical care, with an extended waiting period for the coroner’s office response, if a family member was injured or died.”
Laura Rucker is seeking damages for the defendants’ “negligence, intentional infliction of emotional distress, and their misrepresentations in connection with the operation and conduct” of the excursions.
She and her children are continuing to suffer from severe emotional distress, including depression, anxiety, post-traumatic stress, insomnia and nightmares, the complaint said.

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