Woman dies after serious fall down staircase during whale watching boat trip

Woman identified as Mary Ann Lanyon of Escondido

SAN DIEGO - The U.S. Coast Guard Monday was investigating the death of an 85-year-old woman who fell down some stairs on a whale-watching boat Sunday.

The accident aboard the 100-foot Marietta, a two-deck tour boat operated by San Diego Harbor Excursions, occurred about 11:30 a.m. when the vessel was about 5 miles offshore, Coast Guard Petty Officer 1st Class Henry Dunphy said.

10News confirmed the woman who died is 85-year-old Mary Ann Lanyon of Escondido. She was taken to the pier at the foot of West Broadway and turned over to paramedics, who took her to UCSD Medical Center, where she was declared dead.
 
The Coast Guard investigates deaths and injuries onboard vessels for hire, Dunphy said.
 
"We investigate to see if all the correct safety procedures were followed and if there's any recommendations we can make to improve safety on the boat," he said.
 
The Marietta is rated for up to 525 people.
 
On Monday, the Coast Guard told 10News that the Marietta has a clean safety record except for one incident in 2006 when a passenger fell down a staircase and hit their head. No other details were available about that incident, citing passenger privacy.
 
10News spoke with Lanyon's husband Wally at his home in Escondido. He was too upset to talk on camera but called what happened "awful."
 
Flagship Cruises and Events released the following statement on Monday:
 
"It's a sad day at Flagship Cruises & Events as our company mourns the death of one of our passengers from our Sunday morning Whale Watching Cruise. An 84-year-old female resident of Escondido accidently fell on the Marietta yesterday while enjoying a Whale Watching Cruise with her daughter.
 
The Flagship crew, assisted by a doctor and RN, immediately treated her injuries. Emergency procedures were implemented and the ship went to the Point Loma Harbor Police Dock where the care of the passenger was given to Fire and EMS Paramedics as they transported her to UCSD for further treatment.
 
The passenger's name is not being released at this time and a Coast Guard Investigation is under way.
 
Our hearts and deepest sympathies are extended to the family of the victim. Safety is our first priority aboard a Flagship Cruises & Events Whale Watching Cruise." 
 
10News spoke with passengers from Monday morning's whale watching cruise once they returned to shore. They said they felt the boat was safe, including its staircases.
 
"There's a banister to hold on to," said one passenger from Chicago. "It's totally secure." 
 
Another added, "I thought it was totally safe… no problems at all."
 
The Coast Guard will recommend safety changes for the Marietta if they determine they are warranted. 
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