A legal expert says Oceangate could face a federal investigation for any criminal liability if the ‘Titanic Five’ are not found alive – as the missing submersible is feared to have run out of oxygen.
They say a ‘coalition’ of governments will likely investigate the tragedy in international waters, but the US is expected to lead the investigation.
Wreckage has been found in the search for the 22-foot submersible, which disappeared with five people on board after losing contact during a 12,500-foot dive to the bottom of the Atlantic.
Criminal defense attorney Joshua Ritter, a partner at El Dube Ritter Trial Lawyers, told Newstimesuk.com that waivers signed by those on board do not mean those in charge are ‘completely immune from criminal liability’.
The former LA County prosecutor said: ‘The question of whether Oceangate could face criminal liability is still unanswered, but some government, or perhaps a combination of governments, will certainly investigate this tragedy.
Shahzada Dawood, 48, is a board member of the UK-based Prince’s Trust charity and her son Suleiman Dawood, 19, is on the board.
‘The US government is the most likely agency to lead this investigation, as Oceangate is located in Washington state.
‘The US government will likely conclude that the agency has jurisdiction to investigate even if it operates in international waters.
Criminal defense attorney Joshua Ritter
‘I would compare this case in some respects to a case in Arizona in 2009 where three people died after attending a sweat lodge.
‘A self-help entrepreneur who ran that sweat lodge has finally been convicted of negligent homicide.
‘People can consent to participate in dangerous activities, but this does not mean that the person in charge is completely immune from criminal liability.
‘If an investigation reveals that participants were misled about the risks or pressured to agree to activities they would normally avoid, this could lead to criminal charges.
‘For the company to use a video game controller to operate this submarine, that’s one of the things that makes it worth investigating.
‘However, the CEO of the company is among the missing, and if he doesn’t survive the whole episode, the question of who will bear the ultimate responsibility will be clouded.’
Oceangate CEO Stockton Rush (left) and billionaire Hamish Harding (right), CEO of Dubai’s Action Aviation, are on board
French Navy veteran PH Nargiolet – considered the world’s leading expert on the Titanic – was aboard the Titan.
The wreck of the Titanic lies 12,500 feet below water – about 11,000 feet deeper than many members of the US and British navies can dive.
The world is praying for a ‘miracle’ after the US Coast Guard predicted Titan’s vital oxygen supply would run out at 7.08am EST.
Billionaire Hamish Harding, CEO of Dubai’s Action Aviation, and Shahzada Dawood, 48, a board member of the UK-based Prince’s Trust charity, and his son Suleiman Dawood, 19, are all on board.
Oceangate CEO Stockton Rush is also aboard the ship, which went missing on Sunday, along with French navy veteran PH Nargiolet – considered the world’s leading expert on the Titanic.
Former federal prosecutor Christine Adams, a partner at Los Angeles-based Adams, Dwark and Kamenstein, added: ‘If US authorities ever file criminal charges against anyone connected to this submarine, it will likely follow a lengthy investigation that involves multiple agencies.
For comparison’s sake, after the fatal shooting on the New Mexico set of ‘Rust’, the FBI, local sheriff’s department, local district attorney’s office and the state OSHA agency all joined the investigation.
‘This latest case will probably be more complicated. The US government will have jurisdiction because Oceangate is located in Washington state, and the governments of other countries, such as France and Britain, whose citizens were aboard the submarine, will likely seek investigative information from the Biden administration through diplomatic channels.
‘What happened in international waters would be relevant, but what happened in the US would probably be just as relevant, if not more so.’
After an investigation, if US authorities find evidence pointing to criminal recklessness or negligence in violation of federal law, prosecutors can bring charges.
Oceangate’s Titan submersible went missing Sunday morning shortly after leaving for the wreck of the Titanic and is running low on oxygen.
Titan’s mothership Polar Prince has been searching the area since Sunday and has been zig-zagging the site. There are at least ten ships at sea above the Titanic
‘If anyone from OceanGate was involved in criminal behavior, it probably happened in the United States, perhaps in Washington state, where company officials are making decisions about how to conduct these deep-sea dives.
‘Because of this, the investigation will likely focus as much on what happened in the US as on what happened in international waters. But it is too early to say whether the criminal charges are substantiated.’
Other legal experts told Newstimesuk.com that relatives of the Titanic Five would not be able to claim the company was negligent because their loved ones ‘knew it was big and serious’, after a waiver mentioned the possibility of three deaths.
Jeff Carson, professor emeritus of earth and environmental sciences at Syracuse University, told Newstimesuk.com that the sounds were likely “wishful thinking” by the Coast Guard.
However, there is some hope for family members if they choose to submit legal filings in Washington, where the company is based.
Los Angeles personal injury attorney Miguel Custodio, co-founder of Custodio & Dubey LLP, told Newstimesuk.com that families of the missing would find it difficult to prove their case in court if the incident ended in tragedy.
He said: ‘Everyone on board knew this was not a vacation or sightseeing, this was truly an exploration of the unknown at one of the deepest points on the planet.
‘The price-tag itself is a clear indication that this is something big and serious. The trip itself was dangerous and there was a real possibility that things could go wrong.
‘I don’t see much recourse for these families in court, but the waiver can be challenged if it is found that there was negligence in the way Oceangate was designed or operated and the submarine was lost as a result.
”The venue of any lawsuit will make a difference, and OceanGate Expeditions is located in Washington state, one of the few that can offer partial compensation in cases of negligence.
Since the sub went missing, many former passengers have commented on how rudimentary parts of the ship turned up – despite signing forms and completing the trip.
Atlantis – seen as the last hope for the missing Titan sub – reached the search site. It descends on a deep-sea robot called Victor 6000, shown on the shoulder of its mother vessel.
As the search for the missing Titan submersible becomes increasingly desperate, the world’s most advanced underwater search equipment is deployed to search the depths of the Atlantic.
The sub lost contact with its operator, OceanGate Expeditions, less than two hours after the famous vessel sank on Sunday.
There was a glimmer of hope in the bleak search yesterday when the coastguard announced that the sound of ‘wrecks’ had been detected underwater.
But a sonar expert told Newstimesuk.com that the sounds heard by the search and rescue ship were likely to be ‘topography’ and ‘debris’ from the iconic wreck.
“He wouldn’t be surprised if there wasn’t a submarine, wherever that noise was,” Professor Carson said.
He added: ‘One possibility is that sounds are bouncing around the debris. And so it’s a more complex echo.
‘It’s not just jumping off a thing. It’s jumping off a bunch of things. And it’s like dropping a marble in a tin can, you know. It is roaring around and it will confuse the location.
‘Ghatkani, I heard about the Coast Guard. I wonder how much of this is just wishful thinking?
‘Is it really a knocking sound or just some unfamiliar sound? I think that is a more accurate description at the moment.
‘In past investigations, looking for objects lost on the seabed, I know all sorts of crazy noises were discovered. It’s just one more thing we don’t understand about the ocean, our own planet.
‘It is not possible to tell where the sound is coming from or how far away. Personally, I’m concerned that the sound is coming from something that’s far from where they need to be looking.’
The Victor 6000 is a French unmanned ROV deployed by the L’Atalante vessel and can reach depths of 20,000 feet.
The multinational vessel sped to the site, which is 900 miles east of Cape Cod and about 400 miles southeast of Newfoundland.
The search involved multiple C-130 planes and Boeing Poseidon P-8s, as the Coast Guard searched 10,000 square miles of sea surface – to no avail.
A deep-water robot sub has reached the bottom of the Atlantic — and a Canadian ROB is currently descending 12,500 feet into the ocean.
L’Atalante, a French ship, seen as the best and last hope of finding the missing Titanic submarine, also launched its remote-controlled sub to find the five missing adventurers.
It has deployed the Victor 6000, which can reach depths of 20,000 feet and has already reached the wreckage of the Titanic on the ocean floor.
The Victor 6000 has weapons that can cut cables – or remove entangled or entangled vessels – and can fix a cable on the sub before being hauled several miles to the surface by a giant winch along with more than three miles of cable. Horizon Arctic’s Flyway Deep Ocean Salvage System.
Despite the fear of running out of their oxygen supply, there is still hope in the most desperate situations.
Experts believe that the 96-hour oxygen supply figure is an inaccurate estimate and could be increased if those on board take measures to conserve breathing air, including standing still and even sleeping.
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