Nebraska couple died in Amazon cruise inferno after 'alarms failed and confused crew took 20 minutes to pull them from their burning cabin - and then the ship continued its voyage'

Originally published at Daily Mail

  • Larry and Christy Hammer died when their cruise cabin caught fire April 10
  • They were on a luxury trip down the Amazon River in Peru when they died 
  • Their daughters say the cruise company's negligence led to their deaths
  • They say footage shows the fire alarms not working, and a confused crew
  • The footage allegedly shows it took 20 minutes for the crew to find the fire
  • And they say they opened the cabin door several times before going in
  • The cruise company says an official report is ongoing
  • And it adds that the boat was tested by multiple agencies

The daughters of an Omaha couple who died when their Amazon cruise cabin burst into flames say an Alabama tourist company's rampant incompetence killed their parents.

Larry and Christy Hammer of Gretna, Nebraska, were on a ten-day cruise down the Amazon River when a fire started in their luxury boat's cabin in April, killing them both.

Now daughters Jill Hammer Malott and Kelly Hammer Lankford, upset by what they say is a lack of information, are running their own investigation - and they say they have uncovered troubling facts, the Omaha World-Herald reported.

Tragic: Larry and Christy Hammer were eight hours into a long-awaited luxury cruise up the Amazon river in April when a fire broke out in their cabin, killing them both

Tragic: Larry and Christy Hammer were eight hours into a long-awaited luxury cruise up the Amazon river in April when a fire broke out in their cabin, killing them both

Larry , 74, and Christy, 72, originally booked a room on the debut journey of cruise ship La Estrella Amazonica through International Expeditions in 2013.

But the company - which the couple had used before - delayed the trip to April 10 of this year.

The couple said goodbye to their daughters, grabbed their newly bought camera, and stepped aboard. Eight hours later they were dead.

Neither Peruvian authorities nor International Expeditions could explain how a luxury ship would kill two guests to the satisfaction of Malott, 46, and Lankford, 41, so they looked into it themselves.

They hired private detectives in Peru, spoke to representatives of the state department and the Peruvian Embassy, and chased International Expeditions. 

What they found, they say, was a catalog of errors that began when something - most likely a power strip in the cabin - caught fire.

They say that security footage and video recorded by one of the 19 other passengers show smoke pouring out of a ventilation duct, with no sign of a fire alarm.

They also claim the crew members were unable to locate the source of the fire for so long that it took 20 minutes from the smoke appearing for them to pull their father's body out of his cabin.

This, they say, despite the fact that the crew had opened the door several times beforehand.

And then it took a further six minutes for their mother to be retrieved - her heart still beating - from the cabin, the sisters claim. She died on the way to hospital.

'There were so many multiple layers of failure on the boat that night,' Malott, 46, of Menlo Park, California, said.

'I don't want this to happen to another person. This should never have happened to my parents.' 

The sisters also claim that International Expeditions promised unlimited time and space for the daughters' investigators to search.

But when they arrived the boat - deemed fit to continue its journey - had sailed off, and their search when it happened was limited to four hours and only certain areas of the ship.

A spokeswoman for the company said that an official investigation by Peruvian authorities - the equivalent of the district attorney's office and the navy - had still not been finished.

She also said that the boat was cleared by six agencies who agreed it was fit to continue its voyage, and that an independent inspector examined the alarm and electrics. 

But she would not comment on whether the crew were properly trained, and said she hadn't seen the recordings of the fire. 

For now, all parties are waiting on the official investigation's conclusion, which is scheduled for December 10.

But Malott told the World-Herald she wants to get the word out about their dissatisfaction now.

'I know everyone hopes we would just go silent,' she said. 'My parents did not raise me and my sister to be that kind of people.'