1 killed in fire on casino shuttle boat off Florida’s Gulf coast

In this photo provided by Pasco County flames engulf a boat Sunday, Jan. 14, 2018, in the Tampa Bay area. The boat ferrying patrons to a casino ship off the Florida Gulf Coast caught fire near shore Sunday afternoon, and dozens of passengers and crew safely made it to land with some jumping overboard to escape, authorities said. (Pasco County Fire Rescue via AP)

PORT RICHEY, Fla. (WFLA) — One person who was on a casino shuttle boat that caught fire in Pasco County on Sunday has died from their injuries, officials say.

A massive fire engulfed the casino shuttle boat in Port Richey on Sunday afternoon forcing crew members and passengers to jump into the water to save their lives.

Fifteen of the 50 people on the boat were transported to local hospitals. One person has died, officials said Monday morning. Officials say the woman was in critical condition after arriving at the hospital and later died from her injuries. He name has not been released.

Nine of the victims were transported to Regional Medical Center Bayonet Point in Hudson.

The flames torched every inch of the boat except for the American flag at the bow.

“I could see the billowing black smoke,” said Christine Hashim, who lives in a nearby neighborhood.

“I started running down the road and then I could hear people yelling,” said Hashim.

The boat shuttling passengers from land to the Tropical Breeze Casino boat had engine trouble, so the captain tried to return the boat to the dock.

“He never made it that far,” said Port Richey Police Chief Gerard DeCanio. “He noticed the fire coming out of the engine room, so he literally almost ran the boat aground to the shoreline.”

50 people, including crew members and passengers, jumped off the boat and into the water.

“I could see there were people just offshore who were struggling to get to shore, crawling on their hands and knees and collapsing in the water,” said Hashim.

She ran into the water to help them. “I just tried to grab as many people as I could. The people were very cold and wet and scared, so it was a little difficult to get all of them in but we managed,” said Hashim.

Everyone made it to shore.

“We had a lot of help from the neighborhood,” said Hashim. “They brought out blankets and coffee and clothes and towels and anything they could find to keep these people warm, so it was really a group effort.”