Family says Carnival ignored pleas to airlift their ailing father

Jeffrey Eisenman died of heart attack aboard cruise ship in Caribbean

By Terrell Forney - Reporter

DORAL, Fla. - Three generations of the Eisenman family planned a Christmas vacation together and decided to sail the Caribbean Sea aboard a Carnival cruise ship six months ago.

"Everything was fine until they got into the port in the Turks," Ira Leesfield, the family's attorney, said.

Jeffrey Eisenman, of Pennsylvania, suffered a heart attack while the ship was at port.

His wife made sure he got the attention of the ship's doctor, who confirmed their worst fears. At that point, the 65-year-old grandfather was still alive, Leesfield said.

"His wife had purchased medevac insurance ... so she had the insurance and she was literally pleading with the crew to call in an evacuation so he could get off the ship," Leesfield said.

But instead, the Carnival Sunshine left the Turks and Caicos Islands with the ill man and his family on board and headed for their next scheduled stop in Puerto Rico a roughly 21-hour voyage that would prove fatal as Eisenman's health continued to decline.

"The best and only opportunity he had to be saved was while they were at port," Leesfield said. "Once they headed out to sea ... he was doomed."

The family has now filed a federal lawsuit against Carnival Cruise Line, alleging negligence and emotional distress after they claim the ailing man and his wife were blocked from disembarking on Grand Turk Island.

"You're at their mercy when you're on the ship," Leesfield said.

The staff allegedly kept Eisenman's body in the ship's morgue for five additional days until the ship returned to Port Canaveral.

Carnival Cruise Line did not immediately respond to a request for comment.

It was painful trip as Eisenman's son was forced to stay close to his father's remains.

"This was not a pleasure cruise," Leesfield said.

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