Erica Cummings, 19 – Drowning Pool, Rotterdam Passenger, December 26, 1997, Time of Death is unknown.
Erica Cummings, 19, from California a student at Baylor University, drowned December 26, 1997, in a shipboard pool that was supposed to be closed for the night. The Holland America Line Rotterdam had just left Guatemala at the time of the incident.
Three generations of the Cummings family were aboard the Rotterdam for the holiday cruise, a Christmas gift from Elizabeth Cummings of Long Beach, California, for her husband, Stuart, her daughters, Erica and Monica, and her mother.
“Can you imagine being in a place where everybody was supposed to have a good time, and then you’ve suddenly lost your child?” Elizabeth Cummings asked. “You feel terrible. Everybody feels terrible.”
The family alleges the cruise line’s staff tried to strong arm them into signing away their rights. The head of security for the cruise line asked the family to sign a statement that released the company from liability in the incident. When family members refused, the head of security became upset.
“That first night he was blaming Erica, saying diving into the pool was a direct violation of the no-diving sign,” Monica Cummings recalled. “We came to find out later (from an eyewitness employed on the cruise ship) that she didn’t dive into the pool.”
The family, became active in working for legislation through U.S. Senator Ron Wyden, Democrat for the state of Oregon to continue to push for a repeal of cruise-ship immunity under the Death on the High Seas Act.
Wyden proposed an amendment to a Federal Aviation Administration (FAA) reauthorization bill would allow relatives of accident victims killed aboard ships or airplanes to sue companies for up to $750,000 in punitive damages.
The family filed a $1 million lawsuit against Holland America Line.