Relatives of Jordan Lindsey, a 21-year-old Torrance student killed by a shark while snorkeling June 26 in the Bahamas, said tour company staff did not enter the water to help her during the attack and lacked emergency supplies to attempt first aid afterward, according to a statement released by the family.
The tour company, Sandy Toes, said that their staff responded quickly and that “all reasonable steps” were taken, but has not responded to questions about specifics on how their staff responded to the attack or the company’s emergency training or procedures.
The family said they released the statement on Tuesday, July 9, to correct “misinformation” that had been reported about the incident and to urge travelers to take steps to protect themselves against such attacks. “Although nothing can change the outcome of the tragedy we’ve suffered, our hope in speaking out is that mandatory safety measures are put in place, so this is less likely to happen again. We also want tourists to know that when booking a tour, while the excursion company may have great reviews, it may not have basic safety measures or first aid equipment in place,” the statement said.
In an e-mail response, Sandy Toes, Bahamas extended their “deepest and sincerest condolences” to the family and friends of Lindsey.
“All reasonable steps were taken to prevent this very unfortunate incident and our staff responded swiftly and in line with our emergency protocols and procedures,” the response said. “We continue to pray for the Lindsey family and all those who have been impacted by this tragic occurrence.”
The tour company’s website shows they are still booking excursions to the private island, just off the shores of Nassau and Paradise Island.
It’s still unclear why the shark attacked, what species it was, or how many were involved. According to the Global Shark Attack File, there have been nine fatal shark attacks in the Bahamas since 1860. The last previous attack occurred in 2008 in the Northern Bahamas when a diver was bitten on the leg by a bull shark.
Details about the shark attack
The family’s statement said the entire family was on the Rose Island day-trip excursion, but only Jordan and her mother, Kami, were snorkeling at the time of the attack. “The shark(s) were not seen by anyone, to our knowledge, until the attack,” their letter read.
“Fortunately, Jordan’s siblings, father and her long-time girlfriend did not witness the attack,” according to the statement. “It was widely reported the family saw the shark(s) in the water and yelled to Jordan, but she did not hear them.”
According to the statement: When Jordan and Kami entered the water, they were acknowledged by two staff members who were finishing their lunch on land, but no staff members or guides entered the water with them. During the attack, Jordan and her mother were inside, but at the far end of, a roped-off snorkeling area.
“Other snorkelers were a good distance away from where the attack occurred and once the attack happened, they scrambled out of the water,” the statement said.
Despite some news reports that said Sandy Toes’ staff members jumped into the water, Lindsey’s family said they did not, and no boat arrived to help during the attack. “Shockingly, no staff mobilized to assist in any way,” their statement said.
Two staff members called over from a nearby rocky hill, urging Kami and Jordan to swim to them; they had no medical or emergency supplies, the statement said.
“As they tried to swim toward each other and toward the rocky hill, a shark came between them and again attacked Jordan. By this time, Kami was able to grab Jordan’s hand and drag her to the rocky shore where the staff members pulled both of them out of the water,” the statement said.
The statement said a small boat, also with no medical or emergency supplies, arrived with a staff member driving. Another staff member went with Jordan and Kami to Nassau. They covered Jordan’s legs with towels, but did not attempt first aid, the family said.
At the dock, an ambulance was waiting for their arrival and took them to the hospital, where Lindsey was pronounced dead.
Lindsey’s family said Sandy Toes staff did not notify other members of the family, who were still on Rose Island. After overhearing conversations from others who had been snorkeling, some crying, the statement said family members “realized the severity of what had happened and soon after, concluded that it was their precious Jordan who the snorkelers were crying for.”
No 'spotters' or first aid
Operators should have designated a staffer as a “spotter” whose sole job is to watch for sharks or other predators, as well as snorkelers who may be in distress, the family contended. The tour company did not respond to questions about whether such a spotter was on duty.
Charter companies should have someone on “guard duty” in the water, trained at fending off a shark, said Erich Ritter, who runs SharkSchool in Florida, which teaches divers, snorkelers, rescue swimmers and others how to interact with sharks. He offers safety courses and workshops for charter companies in areas such areas as the Bahamas.
Ritter said staff should be trained in what to look for when entering the water when one or more sharks are near, how to position oneself between a shark and a victim and how to pull a shark off of a victim.
Ron Moore, owner of Snorkeling Catalina and Dive Catalina, urged travelers to do deep research on charter companies before hiring them, he said, to assure that instructors and dive masters are first-aid and CPR trained.
“You need to really do research,” he said, “then, hopefully you pick the right outfit.”
But being in the ocean inherently comes with potential dangers, he said. “If you’re traveling and diving, there’s some risk, that’s just the way it is,” he said.
After the attack, the Ministry of Agriculture and Marine Resources in the Bahamas issued an advisory for the public to “exercise extreme caution” in the area.
“The public is further advised to avoid the cleaning or discarding of fish waste in the water as this practice attracts sharks into areas often utilized for swimming by the public and our guests. Further, if a shark is seen in the swimming area, persons are advised to leave the water and in no circumstance molest or play with the animal,” it reads. “Also, if injured and bleeding while in the water, it is recommended that you leave the water as sharks are attracted to blood.”
Lindsey’s family set up a GoFundMe page to pay for the cost of bringing her home, with any additional funds going to her favorite animal shelter, Gentle Barn. The fundraiser far exceeded the $25,000 goal, with more than $75,000 raised as of Tuesday.
Friends describe the Loyola Marymount University student and South Torrance High School graduate as an animal lover passionate about climate-change advocacy.
LMU plans to honor her with a plaque bearing her name at the student memorial, Snyder said.
Eric Strauss, executive director for the Center of Urban Resilience at LMU, said Lindsey was an extraordinary work-study student and researcher focusing on the public perception of wild coyotes by comparing data to media reports.
“Her passion was wildlife,” he said in a past interview, “her passion was the environment.”