A woman has died after a shuttle boat carrying about 50 people to a casino off Florida's Gulf Coast erupted into flames Sunday afternoon, authorities said.
Shortly after the boat left the dock, the captain spotted smoke streaming from the engine room and decided to turn back, Chief Gerard DeCanio of the Port Richey Police Department told the New York Times. However, the fire grew so quickly that he veered toward shore to enable people to jump off into shallow water.
The 42-year-old woman died Sunday night, about an hour after she arrived at the hospital, Regional Medical Center Bayonet Point spokesman Kurt Conover told the Associated Press. She became ill after fleeing the burning boat.
Emergency responders ran into the cold water to help rescue about a dozen people who were still trying to get to safety. About 15 people were treated for injuries like chest pain and smoke inhalation, according to the Associated Press.
The shuttle boat routinely takes people back and forth from the Tropical Breeze casino ship offshore near Port Richey, about 35 miles northwest of Tampa, since it cannot legally operate close to land.