Families of Newark firefighters killed in cargo ship fire announce intention to sue

Through depositions of the ship’s crew, the victims’ families have learned the fire was started by a Jeep Wrangler being used by crew members.

Chris Keating

Oct 6, 2023, 9:40 PM

Updated 254 days ago

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The families of two Newark firefighters killed battling a fire at Port Newark say they plan to file a lawsuit against the shipping company and the city of Newark.
Augusto Acabou and Wayne Brooks were killed on July 5 while fighting a fire on the Grande Costa d’Avorio ship.
Through depositions of the ship’s crew, the victims’ families have learned the fire was started by a Jeep Wrangler being used by crew members. The Jeep had been malfunctioning and eventually caught fire as crew members used it to push disabled vehicles on board.
Acabou and Brooks became trapped during the incident and died. That fire would continue to burn for five days.
The families held a news conference on Friday. They said they intend to sue Grimaldi, the ship’s owner, as well as the city.
Brooks’ widow Michele Brooks said, “We are committed to have those responsible for the loss of two precious lives held accountable… Wayne was not just my husband. He was a cherished father, son brother cousin and beloved member of our community…Wayne was taken from us in a manner that was entirely preventable.”
Acabou’s brother Miguel Acabou said, “As we know, negligence from all parties involved led to the death of my brother Augie and Wayne Brooks.”
Newark Mayor Ras Baraka said the city is also looking for answers.
“I know the families of our two fallen Newark Firefighters, Augusto Acabou and Wayne Brooks, Jr., want and need answers and resolutions so that they can make some kind of sense out of their loss. The city wants the same thing. We trust that the investigators are completing their process as quickly and expeditiously as possible while maintaining the integrity of their examination and analysis. It’s my deep hope that this investigation will yield the information the families need for healing, and that the answers will benefit all firefighters in Newark, and everywhere,” Baraka wrote in a statement.
Grimaldi is attempting to limit their liability to $15 million, the value of the ship. The family’s attorneys are looking to remove that limit.


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