Casino Boat Runs Aground Off Georgia Coast In Maiden Voyage

July 16, 2014

This post has been updated at 3:30 p.m. ET:

The Coast Guard is evacuating passengers from the Escapade, a casino boat that ran around off the Georgia coast after midnight on Wednesday.

Passengers are being shuttled to a Coast Guard cutter via small rubber zodiacs, according to the Savannah Morning News.

“As of 3 p.m., four people have been placed on a Coast Guard helicopter, including a possible stroke victim, a man with a cane, one with a walker, and one with a brace,” reports WTOC, the CBS affiliate in Savannah, Ga. “They were placed on the helicopter because they were not able to be placed to one of the smaller rescue boats.”

The original plan had been to tow the Escapade back to shore with all 123 passengers and crew members on board, but that idea was scuttled when tow lines broke.

Our original post continues:

The first passengers aboard a new casino boat turned out to have bad luck.

The Escapade, operated by Florida-based Tradewinds Casino Cruise, set out on its maiden voyage out of Savannah, Ga., on Tuesday night.

It ran aground early Wednesday about 1.8 miles off Tybee Island, in the Calibogue Sound near the Georgia-South Carolina border, according to the U.S. Coast Guard.

“Its chart plotter had malfunctioned, causing the vessel to veer off course,” reports the Savannah Morning News.

The Coast Guard has a response boat about 100 yards away, but can’t get any closer because of low water levels. The Coast Guard hopes the 174-foot-long Escapade can be refloated or towed at high tide, early Wednesday afternoon.

The boat is leaning but appears to be stable.

The 96 passengers and 27 crew members on board could be evacuated by helicopter if necessary. “But right now there are no medical concerns that would cause us to use that,” Coast Guard Petty Officer 1st Class Lauren Jorgensen told The Associated Press.

Slideshows of photographs sent to local news outlets show passengers looking calm but bored. They are wearing life vests as a precaution.

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