Mother of twins dies after casino boat fire; donations sought

A GoFundMe account has been set up to aid the children of Carrie Dempsey.

The 42-year-old woman, who lived in Lutz, died Jan. 14, hours after a fire engulfed a casino shuttle boat ferrying about 50 passengers to a casino ship in the Gulf of Mexico.

She was the sole fatality among about 15 passengers who needed medical attention, according to news reports.

Carrie Dempsey

Dempsey leaves behind 12-year-old twins, Chad and Megan. Dempsey’s husband, Joseph Dempsey II, died in 2011, at the age of 33, according to an obituary.

The children are being cared for by their grandparents.

“We are reaching out to raise funds for Chad and Megan’s care and education, that their grandparents may not have been financially prepared for,” according to a written statement on the GoFundMe page. “Chad and Megan are two kind-hearted, athletic and academically gifted children who deserve a bright future. They have incurred so much loss and heartache in their short lives.”

Bridget Verrecchia is listed as the fund’s organizer. She is vice president of the ways and means committee of the PTA executive board for McKitrick Elementary School, according to the school’s website.

Segal Funeral Home is handling funeral arrangements.

According to an obituary, Dempsey moved to the Tampa Bay area in 1985 from Cleveland, Ohio.

She will be “remembered for her sense of humor, quick wit and infectious laugh, but mostly as a devoted and loving mother,” the obituary states.

Graveside services are scheduled for Jan. 25 at 2 p.m., at Gan Shalom Cemetery, 3527 E. County Line Road in Lutz. In lieu of flowers, a college fund will be established for Dempsey’s children.

The cause of the fire aboard the Island Lady is under investigation, according to a spokesman with the U.S. Coast Guard.

About 50 people were aboard as the shuttle, operated by Tropical Breeze Casino, steered toward the gulf, and a casino ship in international waters.

The boat’s captain noticed the engine was overheating, and prepared to return to shore when a fire broke out, according to news reports.

The reports said the captain ran the shuttle aground in the Pithlachascotee River, about 100 yards from shore in Port Richey.

Passengers and crew had to jump into chilly waters. Rescuers included nearby neighbors, Port Richey police, Pasco County Sheriff’s Office, Pasco Fire Rescue, and the U.S. Coast Guard.

The boat burned down to its hull, reports added.

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Published January 24, 2018

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