Before being rescued, he spent hours treading water in the Gulf of Mexico while enduring rain, winds, and waves. Not everyone has been as fortunate, as reported by NY Times.
Only one day had passed since the Carnival Valor set sail when announcements over the loudspeaker asked a specific passenger to report to customer service.
The 28-year-old American citizen’s family had reported him missing that morning.
The Valor, a 3,756-passenger cruise ship that had departed New Orleans the day before, was sailing toward Cozumel, Mexico, on Thanksgiving.
According to Shant’a Miller White, a passenger who was travelling with her husband and family, crew members quickly started searching guests’ cabins. “We just need to make sure everything is OK,” a staff member stated as she entered the cabin of her relative.
We had no idea what was happening, said Ms White, 48. The ship was required to alter course in order to conduct a search and rescue effort, it was announced during supper.
Ms White experienced nausea as she imagined the unidentified traveller floating alone in the lake.
“Did they fall to the seafloor? Did sharks catch them?”, Ms White remembered her thoughts. She started praying.
James Grimes, 28, who was on the five-day vacation with his parents and siblings, was identified as the passenger by the Coast Guard. His family had last seen him around 11 p.m. the previous evening.
However, the family alerted the crew at 10:45 on Thanksgiving morning when there was no trace of him, according to the Coast Guard.
A passing tanker saw the man near the mouth of the Mississippi River around 8:10 p.m., more than nine hours after his family reported him missing, and notified the Coast Guard.
When rescuers arrived, they discovered Mr Grimes struggling in the water, desperately waving and trying to keep his head above the water.
He was in shock, had mild hypothermia, and was very dehydrated when the MH-60 Jayhawk crew took him out, according to Lt. Seth Gross, who oversaw the Coast Guard’s search and rescue effort. However, he was still breathing and in good health.
In the Gulf of Mexico, where bull sharks and blacktip sharks are abundant, Mr Grimes, whose family characterised him as an amazing swimmer, had treaded in 65 to 70-degree water for hours while enduring rain, 20-knot winds, and three to five-foot waves, according to Coast Guard officials.
Lieutenant Gross remarked, “This instance is unquestionably extraordinary.” “The urge to survive and the survival instinct are just insane.”
How often does this happen?
A cruise passenger’s greatest nightmare can be falling from a ship into a large body of water. According to statistics from the Cruise Lines International Association (CLIA), while the likelihood of falling overboard is extremely tiny, the result is typically devastating.
Only nine of the 25 persons who fell overboard in 2019 were saved, according to CLIA.
In February, a passenger on board the Carnival Valor jumped off the ship’s 10th deck to escape security guards who were attempting to apprehend her after she had tangled with them. Her remains were never located.
After a night of excessive drinking in December 2016, a 22-year-old man fell from the 12th deck of a Royal Caribbean cruise ship. In federal court in Florida, his parents filed a lawsuit against the cruise line, but a jury found in favour of Royal Caribbean.
According to Ross Klein, a professor of social work at the Memorial University of Newfoundland who studies cruise safety, alcohol is a contributing factor in at least 11% of falls from cruise ships, which frequently provide all-inclusive drink packages that encourage drinking onboard.
“Cruises are viewed as idyllic, safe and secure, and of course, those views are reinforced by advertising and public statements,” he said. But the public should be aware of the risks of going on a cruise, which includes being pushed overboard, going overboard and being tempted to jump overboard, he said.
How do ships prevent people from going overboard?
According to Professor Klein, railings are required to be 42 inches tall by legislation. After Congress started discussing laws to enhance security on ships in 2005, there were attempts to make the railings nearly another foot taller, he added. But the railing height limits were set at the present standard in 2010 when Congress passed the Cruise Vessel Security and Safety Act, he claimed.
According to Brian Salerno, senior vice president for Maritime policy at CLIA, the railing height is intended to keep passengers safe along ship promenades.
According to Mr Salerno, “the vast majority of cases are either irresponsible behaviour or some kind of purposeful action.” “People don’t just tumble over the edge of a ship accidentally,”
Professor Klein suggested that reducing alcohol consumption, raising railing heights, and installing equipment that detects when a heavy object has dropped from the ship could reduce the chance of passengers falling overboard on cruise liners.
According to Mr Salerno, the 2010 regulation required cruise ships to start creating and implementing this technology.
Years of research and development went into developing a video surveillance system that would be sensitive enough to alert a ship’s crew in the event of a person falling overboard but not being set off by other items, such as a passing seagull. According to Mr Salerno, several ships have already started installing these technologies.
According to Robert Kritzman, a partner at Miami-based Clyde & Co., an international law company that counsels cruise firms, bartenders on ships is also educated to look out for signs of excessive drinking.
The general rule is the same as it is anywhere else: “Once someone gets too drunk, you stop serving,” he stated.
The only way to go overboard, according to Carnival Corp., is to deliberately climb up and over the safety obstacles.
The cruise line congratulated the Coast Guard and the mariner who located Mr Grimes in a statement that said, “Cruise ships have safety barriers in all public areas that are governed by U.S. Coast Guard standards that prohibit a visitor from jumping off.” The rails should never be climbed by visitors.
When pressed further about the incident or Carnival’s safety procedures, a spokeswoman remained silent.
What happens when the crew learns that a person has gone overboard?
According to Mr Kritzman, cruise ships have well-defined procedures for what to do if someone jumps overboard.
After discovering a passenger has gone overboard, the crew members promptly alert the Coast Guard, stop the ship, and turn around to search for the missing person. Smaller, swifter boats are frequently sent out from the ship to look for the person, according to Mr Kritzman.
The specific moment Mr Grimes went overboard and the circumstances surrounding his recent fall from the Carnival Valor are unknown. The Coast Guard reported that it was looking into the event.
The Coast Guard sent out a 45-foot patrol boat, a helicopter, and a tracker plane to look for the missing passenger, according to Lieutenant Gross. He claimed that the Coast Guard promptly informed any vessels in the Gulf of Mexico to seek the man and established a search area covering more than 7,000 square nautical miles, or about the size of Massachusetts.
About 20 miles south of Southwest Pass, a canal at the mouth of the Mississippi River, the bulk ship The Crinis sighted Mr Grimes.
According to Lt. Gross, he informed the man’s mother and stepfather that he had been located.
He could hear them crying and cheering when he explained that their son was doing well and receiving treatment at a hospital in New Orleans.
When the ship announced that Mr Grimes had been found alive, Ms White, who lives in Hampton, Va., and leads an anti-bullying organisation, said she was overcome with relief.
She said, “That was nothing but God that he lived.”
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Source: NY Times