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  • Sydney Burgbacher

Former CCU student recovering from summer tragedy

Summer is supposed to be a time of having fun in the sun and making memories. For Coastal Carolina graduate Stefanie Schaffer, however, this recent summer concluded in tragedy.

Schaffer and her family were in a horrific boat explosion while in the Bahamas in July. The family was on vacation and decided to go on a boat excursion.

According to the Boston News, Stefanie’s step father states that the entire family was all “happy and smiles” until everything went downhill.

According to CNN, the engine of the boat exploded, causing the boat to catch fire. One person died in the explosion while many sustained injuries.

The Schaffer’s were riding on a boat used by the Sugar Adventure Company. Captain Horace Smith, owner of the tour boat company, spoke to the Bahamas Tribune about the tragic incident.

"Two women were holding onto a guy. One of them said she couldn’t feel her legs so my son jumped into the water to help her," Smith told Tribune. "There was a lot of blood on my boat from the lady whose leg was damaged.”

Smith also told the Bahamas Tribune how he would have handled the incident.

“If it was my boat and I saw smoke," he said, "everyone would be off the boat before the explosion happened but only he knows what happened.”

The captain of that boat, Ron Watson, was discharged a few days after the incident from a hospital in Nassau, the capital of Bahama, after receiving treatment there, CNN reported.

The former Coastal student suffered many broken bones along with the amputation to both of her legs, within 20 days of the accident she had already been through 13 surgeries with many more on the way.

Schaffer was a part of the Phi Sigma Sigma sorority here at the university. Phi Sigma Sigma, along with many other organizations and sources, are selling blue “Stef Strong” bracelets to help raise money for her and her family.

This sorority held a fundraiser on Tuesday, Aug. 28 in order to get their former sisters’ story out there and see if people would be willing to donate to her fund or buy a “Stef Strong” bracelet.

After the incident, friends began a GoFundMe page to help the families pay for medical expenses as well as Schaffer’s travel back to the United States. So far, the GoFundMe has raised nearly $170,000 and is hoping to reach a goal of $200,000.

The Chanticleer has reached out to the family and has not heard back.

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