Sometimes it’s very difficult to assist those in need, raising serious questions about what we owe to others and what qualifies as heroic behavior. Sometimes, though, it’s not so difficult to assist those in need … and then we need to wonder why assistance wasn’t forthcoming.
Case in point:
A Panamanian man who watched his two companions die while surviving at sea for 28 days in their small disabled boat has sued a U.S. cruise line because one of its ships failed to help, his attorney said Sunday.
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.
What seems pretty clear from the information provided in the New York Times article is that at least two people attempted to get the people in charge to assist the three stranded fisherman and that, somewhere along the line, a decision was actively made — by a person or persons affiliated with the cruise ship — not to help.
That was a life-or-death decision and it’s very difficult to imagine that those stakes somehow weren’t clear.