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Two men charged in Bahamas boat explosion tragedy

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Clayton Smith (left) and Roderick Watson
 

By Krystel Brown (Nassau Guardian)

NASSAU, Bahamas — Exactly four months after a boat exploded in Exuma in The Bahamas, killing an American woman and injuring others, the owner of the tour company and the captain of the ill-fated vessel have been charged with one count of manslaughter by negligence and nine counts of causing harm by negligence.

Clayton Smith, 45, and Roderick Watson, 36, are accused of causing the death of Maleka Jackson, 39.

 

Jackson, of Woodstock, Georgia, was in Exuma celebrating her 15th wedding
anniversary with her husband, Tiran Jackson, when the incident happened.

Smith and Watson are further accused of negligently causing harm to Tiran Jackson, who had one of his feet amputated, along with Stacey and Paul Bender; Sheila and Haiden Jones; John Inman; and Kyle Ackerman, Brooke Schaffer and Stefanie Schaffer, a dancer, who lost both of her legs.

Smith and Watson were not required to enter a plea to the charges. Deputy Chief Magistrate Subusola Swain advised them that she did not have the authority to consider bail and remanded them to prison.

The matter will proceed by way of a voluntary bill of indictment, which will fast track the case to the Supreme Court.

The case was adjourned to December 12.

The men were represented by Elliot Lockhart, QC.

The remains of the burnt-out boat in shallow water off the Exumas

A report into the explosion found that the vessel was not registered with the Port Department, was never inspected, was not constructed up to standard and the fuel fill hose did not meet the specification for its intended use.

The report, which was released on October 1, noted that an exact cause of the explosion could not be determined “due to the significant damage sustained during and after the explosion”.

The investigation was conducted by the Bahamas Maritime Authority.

Four C’s Adventures operated several boats in Exuma for the purpose of providing local tours in the surrounding islands, predominately to tourists.

 

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