The family of a 21-year-old California woman who died in a shark attack last month in the Bahamas is calling for tour groups in the Caribbean country to be better prepared for emergencies.
Jordan Lindsey's family released a statement Tuesday "out of concern for others who may be faced with a life-threatening incident while on vacation in the Bahamas."
"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," the statement read.
As shark attacks in the Bahamas have made headlines in recent weeks, the family urged travelers who book tours with excursion companies to look beyond online reviews and make certain the companies have "basic safety measures or first aid equipment in place."
"When we booked the Sandy Toes Day Excursion to Rose Island, we assumed they would have procedures in place to help in the event of an emergency," they wrote.
Lindsey and her mother, Kami, were snorkeling together off Rose Island on June 26 when three sharks pounced on Lindsey, biting her multiple times.
Though some news stories reported that other family members saw the sharks prior to the attack and yelled out to the pair, the family said that wasn't true.
It also wasn't true that Sandy Toes staffers tried to help Lindsey as the attack was happening, the family added.
"A few news reports indicated that Sandy Toes' staff members jumped in the water to help but that is incorrect, no one jumped in. Shockingly, no staff mobilized to assist in any way," they said.
After the attack, Lindsey's mother dragged her to a rocky shore where staff members pulled them out of the water, according to the statement.
"Once out of the water, there was no medical attention provided to Jordan. They had no first aid kit — no basic supplies for any type of injury," the family said.
A small boat finally arrived with only one staff member on board, the family said.
"There were no medical or emergency supplies in the boat. The only thing provided were towels which were used to cover Jordan's legs. The staff provided no first aid whatsoever," the family said.
The boat took the pair to a dock where an ambulance was waiting to take them to Doctor's Hospital, where Lindsey was pronounced dead.
The statement went on to blast the Sandy Toes tour company for not notifying Lindsey's family members who were on Rose Island about the attack. Instead, the statement said, the family members learned about the attack after noticing other snorkelers on the island crying.
The Sandy Toes website notes that guests must sign a waiver to participate and that the company "is not responsible for any personal property or injury to guests while on the excursion."
Sandy Toes denied the family's claims about its staff's response to the attack in a statement to TODAY.
"We would once again like to extend our deepest and sincerest condolences to the family and friends of Jordan Lindsey who recently passed away as a result of a shark attack in waters near Rose Island in The Bahamas,'' the company said. "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. We continue to pray for the Lindsey family and all those who have been impacted by this tragic occurrence."
The Bahamas Ministry of Tourism said in a statement to TODAY that it will "review this incident and this family's concerns."
In an effort to prevent a similar tragedy from happening again, the family suggested the following tips to tour groups in the Bahamas:
- Designate a staffer as a "spotter" whose sole job is to stand guard and look for sharks or other predators as well as snorkelers who may be in distress so they could be warned or helped immediately.
- Have an emergency plan in place for incidents like shark attacks, but also for more common medical incidents like animal bites, jellyfish stings or even in case of heart attacks or falls.
- Have medical supplies on all tours and provide first aid training to staff members so that they are willing and able to provide immediate response during emergencies.
The family said by sharing their story they hoped to send "a warning and an appeal for greater regulations to be imposed in the Bahamas."
"We would not be able to live with ourselves if we didn't speak out and later hear that another family suffered the same devastating loss," they wrote.