Vt. woman seriously injured in Bahamas tour boat explosion

Published: Jul. 2, 2018 at 2:01 PM EDT
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A young Rutland woman is in serious condition after a vacation nightmare. A tour boat she was on in the Bahamas exploded. Stefanie Schaffer had to have both of her legs amputated but her family says she is on the road to recovery.

"I got a voicemail from my younger brother Chris saying that there's been an accident," said Mike Schaffer of Clifton Park, New York.

Mike Schaffer calls it the shock of his life-- hearing his two nieces, their mother and their stepfather were on a tour boat in the Bahamas that burst into flames while they were vacationing.

"This is Brooke. She's 13. She's going to be just fine, cuts and bruises," Mike said. "This is our Stefanie. She's 22."

He says Stefanie was sitting at the back of the boat by the engine when it exploded.

"She got really seriously injured," he said. "Her legs below her knees had to be amputated."

Her uncle says Stefanie suffered massive internal injuries and is currently in a medically induced coma. He describes his niece as a beautiful 22-year-old going into her senior year of college.

"She used to be an avid ballet dancer. She played soccer throughout high school on varsity; she was an excellent player," he said.

Castleton University posted to its Facebook page saying, "We are shocked and saddened to hear the news that senior Stefanie Schaffer and her family were involved in such a tragic accident. Please help us in sending this family strength as they begin their road to recovery."

"Family right now is everything," Mike Schaffer said. "So many friends are reaching out."

Mike says his brother, Stefanie's father, traveled from Vermont to the Bahamas Sunday night with Stefanie's brother. He says they hope to fly her back to the states to be treated.

"You see this stuff on TV but you don't ever think it's going to be someone you know, and it's my own blood, my own nieces," he said. "It's a miracle that Stef's even alive."

Stefanie's mother, Stacey Bender, was also hurt. Brooke Schaffer and Paul Bender have cuts and bruises.

Twelve people were on the boat, 10 Americans and two Bahamians. One American woman was killed. The cause of the explosion is still under investigation.