Casino boat fire victim was 42-year-old woman

CREDIT WFLA

CREDIT WFLA

That's what Qaadia Culbreath wants to know after he was forced to jump from a burning casino shuttle boat in the Gulf of Mexico near Port Richey on Sunday afternoon.

Regional Medical Center Bayonet Point spokesman Kurt Conover said Monday that the passenger died late Sunday, hours after the 4 p.m. fire.

The extent of her injuries or the cause of death were not released.

A 42-year-old woman died after going to hospital Sunday night when she fell ill.

The Coast Guard says it is investigating a casino shuttle boat fire off Florida's Gulf Coast that led to the death of a female passenger.

"The guy that was in the water said, 'Man jump, jump, jump.' I was like, 'Man I can't swim.' So I was trying to climb off and I was dangling off the metal hanger in the front of the boat because I didn't want to let go to drown".

Port Richey police said 15 people were injured in the fire.

"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. They said the boat captain realized there was engine trouble early on and turned back. All passengers were able to make it to shore where EMS treated them.

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Larry Santangelo, 57, said he had just driven into his neighborhood Sunday afternoon when he saw smoke and fire.

He told the Tampa Bay Times that he then saw people wandering about confused, wet and cold, after they reached land.

One man shot video of the burning boat as it neared the shore. "It was really hard to watch but we were glad they were close to shore and our whole neighborhood came together to pass blankets and whatever care they needed", Bakr Jandali of Port Richey told CNN. Residents then offered them towels, socks and water to drink.

It wasn't immediately clear what caused the fire, which sent a huge plume of dark black smoke wafting over sunny skies on an unusually chilly winter day in the Tampa Bay region. Santangelo said he took about 30 of the passengers into his garage to warm up and recover.

"All of us, my family and the neighbours, brought them towels and water", Jandali said.

"If they were out any further this could have been a tragedy, certainly a different ending than this", Chief Jerry DeCanio said.

The shuttle had been transporting people between to the Tropical Breeze Casino boat when it had engine problems.

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