Cruise ship passenger falls overboard near Bahamas

Coast Guard searches for missing 35-year-old man

By Amanda Batchelor - Senior Digital Editor

MIAMI - The U.S. Coast Guard is searching for a missing cruise ship passenger who fell overboard near the Bahamas.

Coast Guard officials said the incident happened on the Royal Caribbean cruise ship Oasis of the Seas about 1 a.m. Friday.

Cruise ship workers told the Coast Guard that a 35-year-old man jumped from the seventh deck onto a life raft below and then fell into the water. Video taken by a passenger shows him holding on to a ledge near the life raft before falling into the water. He was last seen wearing a pink shirt and white shorts.

"I'm not sure if they slipped off. I'm not sure exactly what happened. However, just with that information, he fell into the water in the dark," Coast Guard Petty Officer Mark Barney said. "Those are things we are definitely concerned about."

More details are emerging about what happened leading up to the incident. Cruise passenger Logan Cunningham said the man was involved in an argument before he went overboard.

"Basically, this guy was pretty intoxicated, got into a disagreement with a guy, security then got involved to where he jumped on the boat," Cunningham said.

The ship was about 17 miles east of the Turks and Caicos and 80 miles away from the Bahamas when the man fell.

"Our report was that he jumped on to a lifeboat and subsequently fell into the water, but regardless of how he ended up in the water, we're concerned right now about just finding him," Barney said.

The cruise send two smaller boats from the ship to look for the man.

In a statement, Royal Caribbean said the passenger was from Brazil.

"He was spotted by Oasis of the Seas crew members intentionally going over the side of the ship," Royal Caribbean spokeswoman Cynthia Martinez said. "A Coast Guard helicopter was dispatched and is currently assisting us with the search. Our care team is providing support to the guest's family and our thoughts and prayers are with them during this difficult time."

The cruise is expected to return to Fort Lauderdale on Saturday morning.

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