Coast Guard rescues man who fell overboard on Carnival cruise ship: ‘a Thanksgiving miracle’

In the first few hours after the Carnival Valor set sail from New Orleans on Thanksgiving Eve, a pair of siblings made their way to a place of holiday cheer: they headed for an onboard bar.

Predictably, the man eventually stepped back to use the restroom.

But he didn’t come back.

hours passed.

He wasn’t in his cabin.

The 28-year-old simply disappeared.

What happened next amazed at least one seasoned sailor, who spent hours afterwards declaring the stunning result was unlike anything he’d ever seen – and nothing short of “one of those Thanksgiving miracles.”

A search is launched by air and sea

It was around 11 p.m. when her brother left, the sister recalled, Carnival spokesman Matt Lupoli said in a statement to CNN on Thursday.

By noon the next day – Thanksgiving Day – she reported him missing, the statement said. Officials have not identified either of them.

Announcements echoed around the ship that the missing passenger was due to check in with guest services, passenger Mike Anderson CNN, on Thursday, and people “noted that security began searching the boat with a photo of the missing (passenger) in their cellphones.” .

A final check-in request was made around 2 p.m., he said.

Passengers were told the arrival time at their port of call in Cozumel, Mexico, would be delayed, Anderson said, but no official announcement was made about what had happened.

The ship, he said, then turned around.

“Carnival Valor has retraced its route to aid in search and rescue,” Lupoli explained.

Then around 2:30 p.m. the Coast Guard received a call from the ship, said Coast Guard Lt. Phillip VanderWeit in a statement.

A cruise passenger went missing.

A multi-crew search for the man is soon underway — by air and sea — he said.

A 200 mile zone and a critical mission

All seafarers in the Gulf were alerted, and the Coast Guard “deployed all available resources,” Lt. Seth Gross, a USCG search and rescue coordinator, told CNN on Friday morning.

These included a small boat from Venice, Fla., a New Orleans-based helicopter, and planes from Clearwater, Fla. and Mobile, Alabama, he said.

The search spanned more than 200 miles in the Gulf, Gross said, adding that the water temperature there was just over 70 degrees as of Thursday night — and slightly colder in the Mississippi.

Given the time difference between when the man was last seen and when the Coast Guard was alerted, “we knew that communications with the sailors in the Gulf of Mexico would be critical,” Gross said.

The mission has been intensified.

About 20 miles south of Southwest Pass, Louisiana, the crew of the bulk carrier CRINIS scanned the water, the Coast Guard said in a news release Friday.

Then, around 8:25 p.m., they spotted something.

“Unlike anything I’ve been involved with”

It was the man.

A Coast Guard MH-60 Jayhawk helicopter crew from New Orleans flew to the scene — and “heaved the man onto the helicopter,” VanderWeit said.

And he responded, USCG Petty Officer Ryan Graves said.

The agency later announced that the 28-year-old had fallen overboard.

Rescuers couldn’t determine how long he was in the water, Gross told CNN This Morning — but it could have been more than 15 hours.

If it’s been that long, it’s “the absolute longest thing I’ve heard of — and just one of those Thanksgiving miracles,” he said.

In his 17-year career, “this case is unlike anything I’ve been involved in,” Gross said. “I think it kind of breaks the norm here, normalcy, and really just shows that the will to live is something you have to consider in any search and rescue situation.”

“Without the emergency response team on board the motor vessel CRINIS, this case could have ended in a much more difficult manner,” he said in the press release. “It took the entire team effort of Coast Guard Sentinels, responders and our professional maritime partners operating in the Gulf of Mexico to locate and bring the missing person to safety.”

The rescued man was taken to await medical personnel at New Orleans Lakefront Airport, Graves said.

He is being evaluated at a hospital, Gross said, and was reported in stable condition by the Coast Guard late Friday morning.

Back aboard the Carnival Valor, an announcement Thursday night over the PA system informed guests that there had been a man-overboard incident, Anderson said.

However, the ship had been cleared of the search, Anderson recalled hearing about it, and was sailing again towards Cozumel.

The CNN Wire ™ & © 2022 Cable News Network, Inc., a WarnerMedia company. All rights reserved. Coast Guard rescues man who fell overboard on Carnival cruise ship: ‘a Thanksgiving miracle’

Laura Coffey

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