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PANAMA CITY, Panama – A Panamanian man who survived 28 days at sea in a small disabled boat is suing Princess Cruise Lines because one of its ships failed to stop and help.
Adrian Vázquez, the fisherman who watched his two companions die at sea, is alleging negligence by the cruise line in a lawsuit filed in a Florida state court by his Attorney Edna Ramos.
I said, 'God will not forgive them.' Today, I still feel rage when I remember that.
The 18-year-old Vázquez and companions Fernando Osorio, 16, and Elvis Oropeza, 31, set off for a night of fishing on Feb. 24 from Rio Hato, a small fishing and farming town on the Pacific coast of Panama that was once the site of a U.S. Army base guarding the Panama Canal.
The boat's motor broke down on the way back and the men drifted at sea for 16 days before seeing a cruise ship approach March 10.
Vázquez has said the men signaled for help.
"Tio, look what's coming over there," Vásquez recalled in an interview in April. "We felt happy, because we thought they were coming to rescue us."
But the ship did not stop, and the fishing boat drifted another two weeks before it was found. By then, Vásquez's two friends had died.
"I said, 'God will not forgive them,'" Vásquez recalled. "Today, I still feel rage when I remember that."
Princess Cruises has said passengers never told the ship's captain they saw a boat.
Osorio and Oropeza died later. Vázquez was rescued on March 22 near Ecuador's Galapagos Islands, more than 600 miles from where they had set out.
Ramos said the lawsuit includes testimony from two cruise ship passengers who have said they saw the disabled boat and reported it to a cruise representative on the Star Princess liner.
Passenger Jeff Gilligan, a birdwatcher from Portland, Oregon, has told journalists that he was among the first people to notice the small boat. Another birdwatcher, Judy Meredith of Bend, Oregon, has also said she saw the small open boat and through her bird-spotting scope could see a man waving what looked like a dark red T-shirt.
Meredith has said that she told a Princess Cruises sales representative what she and Gilligan had seen and that he assured her that he passed the news on to the ship's crew. The two passengers said they put the sales representative on one of the spotting scopes so he could see the small boat for himself.
Based on reporting by the Associated Press.