Chinese crewman crushed by door on cruise ship

Posted: Friday, July 28, 2000

JUNEAU (AP) -- A cruise ship crewman crushed to death by a hydraulic door was apparently moving laundry bags through the door when he became caught, investigators said Thursday.

Jai Ming Dai, 49, of Shanghai, China, died early Wednesday aboard the Norwegian Sky as the ship approached Haines.

An Alaska State Trooper investigation determined the death was accidental, although a lack of witnesses makes it difficult to determine exactly what happened, said Greg Wilkinson, a spokesman for the troopers.

''One foot on one side one foot on the other, he was caught in the middle,'' Wilkinson said.

Such doors are designed to seal off parts of the ship from fire or flooding. Because the ship was under way, the door would have been closed, said Coast Guard Cmdr. Rob Lorigan.

Because the safety of the ship could be at stake, watertight doors are designed to close even if the accidentally close on something, Lorigan said. Loud alarms and sound and strobe lights flash as the doors close.

To open the door while the ship was moving, someone would have to hold down a lever. Once the lever was released, the door would automatically begin to close, Lorigan said.

Although the door would have taken between 20 and 40 seconds to close if it had been fully opened, the victim may have opened it only part way, decreasing the amount of time he had to get through, Lorigan said.

The troopers and the Coast Guard had been curious to find out how someone could get caught in such a slow-moving mechanism, but investigators found no sign of foul play, Lorigan said.

Norwegian Cruise Line has agreed to remind the Norwegian Sky's crew of safety rules and procedures for using the doors, Lorigan said.

The 853-foot Norwegian Sky is the newest of the line's ships, commissioned in 1999. It has a crew of 750 and can carry more than 2,000 passengers.

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