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Vermont Woman Who Lost Legs in Bahamas Boat Blast Returns to US

Stefanie Schaffer, 22, suffered life-threatening injuries when the tour boat she was on exploded into flames

The Vermont woman who suffered life-threatening injuries in a boat explosion in the Bahamas is now back in the United States.

Family friends said 22-year-old Stefanie Schaffer of Mendon was air-lifted last night to a hospital in Fort Lauderdale, Florida.

Schaffer’s vacation turned into a nightmare when she lost both of her legs to emergency amputations after the tour boat she and her family were on exploded into a fireball this past weekend.

Some of Schaffer’s closest friends said the senior at Vermont’s Castleton University needed another surgery and is still in critical condition.

There’s no word on when Schaffer may be able to return home to Vermont.

“I just want her to know that we promise to be there for her, no matter what, going forward,” said longtime friend Alex Duffy. “She’s always been there for me and I promise to be by her side for anything that she needs. It’s going to be a long road and she’s really going to need friends right now.”

A GoFundMe effort to support Schaffer’s medical care and other future needs surpassed its $100,000 goal, with the total still climbing toward a new goal of $200,000.

Family friend Amy Merrill said Schaffer’s mother, Stacey Bender, will need further medical treatment for her serious injuries, but is stable.

Schaffer’s younger sister and step-father experienced less damaging physical injuries, but still have a long road ahead of them emotionally, Merrill said.

The cause of the explosion in the Bahamas is still under investigation.

Royal Bahamas Police Force Superintendent Shanta Knowles said officials from the country's police, fire and civil aviation departments were on the island of Great Exuma on Monday. He said a more formal and detailed statement will be forthcoming as the investigation continues.

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