FROM LEFT: Captain Roderick Watson and owner Clayton Smith. Photos: Shawn Hanna/Tribune staff
By NICO SCAVELLA
Tribune Staff Reporter
FOUR C's Adventures owner Clayton Smith and one of his tour boat captains, Roderick Watson, were charged yesterday with causing the death of an American woman and injuring nine other people due to negligence when the boat they were chartering burst into flames earlier this year.
The two Stuart Manor, Exuma natives both stood before acting Deputy Chief Magistrate Subusola Swain to face one count each of manslaughter by negligence and nine other counts of causing negligent harm concerning the deadly explosion in waters off Barraterre, Exuma on June 30.
It is alleged the pair’s negligence caused the death of Tennessee native Maleka Johnson, and also negligently caused harm to her husband of 15 years, Tiran Jackson, who had to have one of his legs amputated.
Similarly, the pair were accused of negligently causing harm to 22-year-old Vermont-native Stephanie Schaffer, who had to have both of her legs amputated after the incident. Smith and Watson are further alleged to have caused negligent harm to Stephanie Schaffer’s sister Brooke Schaffer, her mother Stacey Bender, and Paul Bender, her mother’s husband.
Smith and Watson are also alleged to have negligently caused harm to John Inman, Sheila Jones, Haiden Jones, and Kyle Ackerman.
According to initial reports, shortly after 9am, a 40-foot chartered tour boat was travelling in waters just off Barraterre, Exuma, with 10 tourists and two Bahamians on board, when an engine exploded, causing the boat to catch afire.
The 10 people on board the vessel were consequently injured and taken to the mini hospital in George Town. One of those injured, Mrs Jackson, died of her injuries, while several others were airlifted for further medical treatment.
Neither Smith, 45, or Watson, 36, were required to enter a plea to the charges yesterday and the matter was adjourned to December 12 for service of a voluntary bill of indictment (VBI). Bail was denied and they were both remanded to the Bahamas Department of Correctional Services (BDCS) in the interim.
Their attorney, Elliot Lockhart, QC, told The Tribune after the proceedings that he intends to apply for bail for his clients “as soon as possible,” which The Tribune understands will take place today.