Two oil workers and the family of another filed a lawsuit claiming the workers were abandoned by a ship in the Gulf of Mexico that could have taken them to safety following Tropical Storm Nate. The workers were forced to evacuate their disabled vessel during the tropical storm and float on an inflatable raft that the workers’ attorney described as a “big life preserver.”
A standby ship was on call to take the workers to safety in case the vessel the oil workers were on became disabled or unsafe. Once the oil workers’ vessel became disabled, they called the standby ship for help, but the standby ship had already left for the mainland. In response, the oil workers scrambled to open several inflatable rafts, but high winds blew them away. The oil workers ended up with only one raft that had an opening in the middle covered by netting. The raft was not big enough for all the workers so some had to float in the shark infested water. The oil workers floated for three day without food or drink. One oil worker died after losing grip on the raft, leaving him stranded in the Gulf. Another oil worker died of hypothermia. The men were found on September 11, after floating for three days, about 50 miles off the coat of the Mexican state of Campeche.
The lawsuit was filed against Geokinetics, Trinity Liftboat Services, and Mermaid Marine Australia Ltd. in federal court in Galveston. The oil workers’ attorney expressed that the case was about making sure the deceased oil worker did not die in vain, and to prevent oil workers from being placed in this kind of position in the future.