Florida casino shuttle boat bursts into flames; 1 reportedly dea - WRCBtv.com | Chattanooga News, Weather & Sports

Florida casino shuttle boat bursts into flames; 1 reportedly dead

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Photo courtesy of NBC News Photo courtesy of NBC News
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Dozens of people jumped more than 10 feet into frigid winter waters after the shuttle ferrying them to a casino ship off the Florida Gulf Coast caught fire Sunday, authorities said.

All 50 passengers aboard made it to shore, the Coast Guard told NBC News on Sunday night. Fifteen of them were treated at hospitals for minor injuries and as a precaution for hypothermia, police said.

NBC affiliate WFLA reported early Monday that one person later died. NBC News could not immediately able to independently verify that report.

The shuttle caught fire at about 3:30 p.m. ET as it was making its way to the Tropical Breeze Casino Cruise, according to Beth Fifer, the casino's assistant chief executive.

Port Richey Police Chief Gerard DeCanio said the captain saw smoke from the engine and turned the boat around. Then he started having engine trouble, said DeCanio, who said the captain had been reporting engine trouble before Sunday.

DeCanio said there was no suspicion of foul play.

Fifer told NBC News it was the first such incident since the shuttle began operating in 1995. Shuttles are needed to ferry customers to the casino, operates in the Gulf of Mexico, because it's not allowed on land in Florida.

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