A 28-year-old cruise ship guest managed to survive 15 hours at sea in the US after he fell overboard during the Thanksgiving weekend. The unnamed victim was on Carnival Cruise Line’s Valor during a sailing in the Gulf of Mexico when the incident took place. His sister reportedly raised the alarm when he did not return to the bar after he went to the toilet on November 23.
A full-scale search of the ship commenced, with photos of the man shown to guests and the Valor’s pool drained. At around 2 p.m. on Thursday, this search was abandoned as it was clear the man was no longer on the ship. The cruise liner, which had been due to sail to the Mexican island of Cozumel, retraced its steps while the Coast Guard and all ships within a 300-kilometer area were called in to help search for the missing man.
In what Carnival refers to as a “Thanksgiving Miracle,” the passenger was spotted approximately 30 km off the Southwest Pass coast, a channel that lies near the mouth of the Mississippi River toward southeast Louisiana. A cargo carrier dubbed the CRISIS first identified the individual before alerting the Coast Guard, which used a helicopter and winched him out of the sea about 15 hours after he had first fallen in. He could identify his name and confirmed that he was the person who fell overboard. The rescue coordinator for the US Coast Guard, Lt. Seth Gross, informed CNN. He had signs of dehydration, hypothermia, and shock.
Rhea said it was the man’s “will to live” that had helped him survive so long. “Based on the circumstance and the length of him being in the water—15-plus hours in the conditions, three- to five-foot seas, 75 degrees (23 Celsius) water temperature—simply his will to survive,” he said. Rhea, who was the pilot on the rescue mission, said it had taken hours before they spotted the man.