A 22-year-old dancer from Vermont suffered life-threatening injuries — and underwent a double leg amputation — after the tour boat she and her family were on exploded during what was supposed to be a relaxing vacation in the Bahamas.
Stefanie Schaffer was enjoying the Caribbean vacation with her sister Brook and parents, Stacey and Paul Bender, on Saturday when the small tour boat they were riding on suddenly exploded around 9 a.m. off the coast of Barraterre Island, ABC News reports. According to CNN, 10 American tourists and two Bahamians were on board the 40-foot chartered boat when the engine exploded.
“Stefanie sustained life threatening injuries including a double amputation and remains in critical condition,” the family wrote on a GoFundMe page for the victims, writing that the incident was the beginning of “a life long struggle for this family.” “Stacey suffered multiple broken bones and internal injuries. Paul and Brooke suffered bruises and cuts.”
Video footage obtained by WFFF showed people jumping from a nearby boat and swimming to the burning vessel. At least one person was killed, CNN reports, and authorities have not revealed the identity of the deceased, but Chester Cooper, from the parliament for Exumas and Ragged Islands, has said that the person who died is an American woman. Four Americans were airlifted to a Florida hospital, according to CNN. The Schaffer family is from Rutland, Vermont.
Schaffer’s older brother, George, told ABC that the young woman is in critical condition and in a medically induced coma at Princess Margaret Hospital in Nassau. He said he and another family member were traveling to be with their injured family members.
On Sunday, George shared a grateful thankful post for those who have offered the family support. In a follow-up message he wrote: “Hang in there Stef I’m on my way.”
He told ABC that Schaffer had “danced her whole childhood.”
As news of the incident spread, many shared moving tributes on Facebook.
“I’ve been trying to come up with something to say but I’m at a loss and completely heartbroken,” one person wrote in a post on Sunday. “Words cannot describe this tragedy and I am so sorry to the Schaffer family that they have to go through this. Stefanie – My Little Lion – you are stronger than this and you’re going to get through this. I have been praying for you and I wont stop. I love you more than words can say.”
Authorities have not identified the cause of the explosion and the Royal Bahamas Police Force is investigating the incident, according to CNN.