Last week, we reported a missing person aboard the Carnival Paradise. According to reports, 50-year-old Brian Lamonds of Greensboro, North Carolina, went missing while the ship sailed 85 miles west of Fort Myers, Florida in the Gulf of Mexico. The cruise line reported the man missing on Tuesday morning at 10AM, calling in the Coast Guard to begin a thorough search of the area, while the cruise ship continued on its way.
A Coast Guard Air Station Clearwater MH-60 Jayhawk helicopter crew, an Air Station Miami HC-144 Ocean Sentry aircraft crew and the crew of the Coast Guard Cutter Isaac Mayo, homeported in Key West all responded to search for the missing guest. The teams spent 55 hours searching 3,059 square miles. Ultimately, however, after finding no trace of the missing person, they decided to call off the search.
Cmdr. David Aldous, search and rescue mission coordinator for the Coast Guard 7th District explained, “Suspending a search is one of the most difficult decisions we have to make as first responders, and it is never made lightly.” These decisions are only made after it is clear that the missing person could not have survived in the water for that amount of time. We send our condolences to the family of the missing person, as they navigate the aftermath of this challenging situation. After all, no one ever expects to lose a loved one aboard a cruise. So the timing and the circumstances are especially unexpected.
Can Overboard Accidents Be Prevented?
In the wake of this event, we cannot help but to wonder how safety might be improved to prevent guests from going overboard–intentionally or otherwise? The tragedy of the situation is that this is not the first overboard accident to happen this year. In fact, several have taken place just in the past month, leading us to believe there may be a larger issue at play, allowing cruise guests to be in greater danger than they should.
Foremost – it is imperative that there is timely notification of a person overboard to both the cruise ship and the Coast Guard in order for an effective search to be conducted. If tens of minutes or hours pass before someone is discovered missing aboard a cruise ship, resulting in a delay in reporting (even if the time of the event can be recreated through video), the area which needs to be searched vastly increases and quickly becomes unmanageable. There exists advanced man overboard technology to immediately alert cruise ships of an overboard situation – enabling the cruise ship to take immediate steps to mark the area and commence rescue efforts. However, cruise lines have not implemented the advanced man overboard technology on their ships. Cruise lines that use U.S. ports should be compelled to utilize this technology to ensure that the proper measures are in place to keep passengers as safe as possible while on the ship.
Although overboard accidents are not the most common incident on the water, they continue to take a consistent number of lives every year, lives that should be protected to the fullest extent possible. Increased safety aboard the ship is the most accessible method for preventing these accidents, as there are far more variables once an individual falls into the water. However, at this point, it is still unclear what steps, if any, Carnival and the other major cruise lines will take in order to decrease the chance of an overboard accident at sea.
LMAW, PA Can Help You Navigate Your Case
At Lipcon, Margulies, Alsina & Winkleman, P.A., we understand that filing a claim against a major cruise line can seem like a daunting task. However, if you or someone you love has been injured aboard a cruise and you believe the company is to blame, you should know that you do not have to face your legal burden on your own.