COLUMBUS, Miss. (WCBI) -It was supposed to be a fun family vacation.But while at sea on a Carnival Cruise ship…the voyage turned into a nightmare. Columbus native Violet Butler was only 51 years old when she passed away. Now her daughter and husband are fighting the cruise line urging for the laws to change. WCBI’s Caresse Jackman sat down with the family and has their tragic story.
Born and raised in Columbus, Violet was a doting wife and mother to Amanda Butler. Last year, the family traveled onboard a carnival cruise line, looking forward to a family reunion in the Cayman Islands. But it was one terrifying moment, after returning from an excursion, that they will re-live in their minds forever.
” I was in front of her and I turned around and we were talking about what were going to do for dinner that night and it was just instant her whole body went limp.”
Amanda ran for help.
“There were 3 security guards that were at the entrance and they closed the ship door.”
But what happened after that stunned both Amanda and her father.
” It took 10 to 15 minutes before the nurse even showed up. she did not bring any equipment with her. and the security team was just standing there. People don’t know, once you get on a cruise ship, these doctors offices are only open 5 or 6 hours a day.”
They moved Violet to the dock. Butch and Amanda say after several minutes with their unresponsive mother, an ambulance finally arrived. She was taken to a hospital on the Cayman Islands… she was in critical condition. But it was the cruise line’s reaction that left this frantic family shocked and confused.The boat sailed away– leaving the family and their luggage behind.
” We felt completely lost and helpless.”
24 hours later, they arrived at Jackson Memorial Hospital in Miami…but by then, it was too late.
“After day number 8, we were told that there was no way she was going to survive.”
Amanda’s mother was brain dead.
” We lost her on May 4, 2013. She died for no reason, because after we did get her into Jackson, after they ran her echograms, etc…it showed she didn’t have a normal heart attack. Her heart skipped a beat, and had anybody stepped forward and given her CPR, she would have been fine.
The grieving family received a letter from Carnival Cruise Lines…
“We received this condolence letter before my mom even died; it was four days before she died. When you receive something like that and you’re still watching her breathe..I can’t tell you what it does to you internally.”
” And then they sent me a 12 hundred dollar bill and threatened to turn it over to collections for medical expense,”
Last month they attended a hearing before the Senate Commerce Committee urging new legislation and protection for cruise ship passengers. It was there, the Butlers refused to give up the fight.
” Anybody can put on a life jacket. If you’re going to get on a boat, I would tell everybody to wait a couple of more months while we push this law through.”