Casino Boat Runs Aground Off Georgia Coast In Maiden Voyage
This post was updated at 10:35 p.m. ET.
The Coast Guard has evacuated passengers from the Escapade, a casino boat that ran around off the Georgia coast after midnight on Wednesday. The boat remains lodged on a sandbar.
Passengers were shuttled to a Coast Guard cutter via small rubber zodiacs, according to the Savannah Morning News.
"As of 3 p.m., four people have been placed on a Coast Guard helicopter, including a possible stroke victim, a man with a cane, one with a walker, and one with a brace," reports WTOC, the CBS affiliate in Savannah, Ga. "They were placed on the helicopter because they were not able to be placed to one of the smaller rescue boats."
The Coast Guard said all passengers and most of the crew had been taken from the boat by 6 p.m. Wednesday, the Savannah Morning News reports.
The original plan had been to tow the Escapade back to shore with all 123 passengers and crew members on board, but that idea was scuttled when tow lines broke.
Our original post continues:
The first passengers aboard a new casino boat turned out to have bad luck.
The Escapade, operated by Florida-based Tradewinds Casino Cruise, set out on its maiden voyage out of Savannah, Ga., on Tuesday night.
It ran aground early Wednesday about 1.8 miles off Tybee Island, in the Calibogue Sound near the Georgia-South Carolina border, according to the U.S. Coast Guard.
"Its chart plotter had malfunctioned, causing the vessel to veer off course," reports the Savannah Morning News.
The Coast Guard has a response boat about 100 yards away, but can't get any closer because of low water levels. The Coast Guard hopes the 174-foot-long Escapade can be refloated or towed at high tide, early Wednesday afternoon.
The boat is leaning but appears to be stable.
The 96 passengers and 27 crew members on board could be evacuated by helicopter if necessary. "But right now there are no medical concerns that would cause us to use that," Coast Guard Petty Officer 1st Class Lauren Jorgensen told The Associated Press.
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