Crew members of the capsized South Korean ferry are under investigation for negligence. According to ABC News, Captain Lee Joon-seok, third mate Park Han-gyeol, and an unnamed helmsman could all potentially face accidental homicide charges for actions taken while the ferry sunk.
Four other crew members are currently being detained by authorities as prosecutors decide if arrest warrants will be issued. They include two first mates, a second mate, and a chief engineer.
Third mate Park had little over a year of experience on the crew, but took over the helm at a difficult part of the route while Captain Lee took a break.
Exchanges between the crew and the South Korean Coast Guard that took place while the ship was capsizing have been released. One crew member said the ship was “leaning too much, and evacuation is impossible.”
Captain Lee has claimed that he did not immediately issue an evacuation order because he feared that the fierce current and frigid water would have killed passengers before rescuers arrived. However, experts say the captain could have told passengers to move to the upper deck, preventing hundreds from getting trapped in the lower decks of the ship.
South Korean President Park Geun-hye said that the behavior of the crew was “unforgivable” and “murderous.”
“Legally and ethically, this is an unimaginable act,” President Park said.
The disaster has claimed 80 lives so far, with 222 people still missing.
Publication date: April 21, 2014