Initial Hearings Come to a Close in Investigation of El Faro Disaster
The initial public hearings for the investigation of the El Faro cargo ship disaster wrapped up on Friday, February 26. Arnold & Itkin is representing the families of four crew members who were among the 33 people killed when the ship sank during a hurricane last year.
Over the past two weeks, the Coast Guard’s Marine Board of Investigation heard testimony regarding the disaster and the events that led up to it. In addition to listening to the recorded final call for help of Captain Michael Davidson, they also heard tailored statements from the executives of the ship’s operating company, Tote Services.
Houston Maritime Attorney Jason Itkin believes that the testimonies of these executives were carefully constructed and delivered in order to limit the company’s liability for the 33 deaths. Previously, Tote executives have cited an unexplained loss of power as the reason the ship went down. Over the past two weeks, they testified that responsibility for the decisions that led to the disaster belongs solely to the ship’s captain.
A second round of hearings is expected to proceed by early summer. However, Coast Guard searchers will also be making a new attempt at finding and recovering key evidence from the shipwreck. Their primary focus will be on locating the cargo ship’s recorder, which is similar to the black box of an airplane. Should the recorder be found, it may provide data on the final 12 hours leading up to the disaster, the analysis of which would delay the panel from reconvening.