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Charles R. Lipcon
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Coast Guard Ends Search For Missing Holland America Cruise Ship Passenger

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There have been several cruise ship disappearances over the course of this year, with the most recent taking place just last week. A 42-year-old Washington man disappeared from a cruise ship near Puerto Rico on Thursday, which prompted an investigation by the Coast Guard, but sadly, their search for the victim ended Friday evening.

According to authorities, Jason Gregory Rappe disappeared from the Holland America cruise ship Eurodam roughly 80 miles northwest of Puerto Rico. The vessel was on a Caribbean itinerary and had been traveling from St. Thomas to the Bahamas when Rappe’s wife reported him missing at around 3:30 a.m. Thursday. She confirmed that a baseball cap found on the ship’s deck belonged to her husband.

When Rappe was reported missing, cruise ship officials turned the vessel around and notified the Coast Guard of the incident. The Coast Guard then dispatched two ships and a helicopter to aid with the search and rescue. Holland America issued a statement regarding the cruise passenger disappearance and explained that crewmembers did everything possible to aid in the investigation.

According to Coast Guard officials, over 2,000 square miles were searched by multiple CG search and rescue crews, as well as the Eurodam, during a 36-hour period, but there were no signs of Rappe.

“Having to suspend a search and rescue case is never easy, the aggressive efforts by our rescue crews to saturate the search area day and night were accomplished with the hopes of finding Rappe,” said Capt. Drew Pearson, Sector San Juan commander.

Holland America released a statement explaining the Eurodam departed St. Thomas Friday at 5 p.m. and had been scheduled to call in Half Moon Cay, Bahamas on Sunday but the call was cancelled.

“Our thoughts and prayers are with the guest and his family,” read the statement.

Cruise passenger disappearances are more common than anyone can possibly imagine. Because of the possible criminal nature a disappearance can have, the names of the victims are not always released, and if they are, it is well after a search and rescue mission is complete. There have been times in which victims are rescued and survive, but most times, the passengers are either never found or have been killed after going overboard. Although cruise passengers can go overboard for various reasons, sometimes foul play is suspected, while other times cruise lines are suspected to have contributed to the incident either because of inadequate railings, over-serving alcohol to passengers or other acts of negligence. There are also instances in which cruise ships do not report the missing passenger quickly enough, and the victim, who might have been saved, is lost at sea.

Ships, including cruise ships, have a duty to rescue passengers who are suspected to have gone overboard. That duty requires the ship to act immediately upon notification that a passenger has gone overboard. Unfortunately, ships do not always act immediately or reasonably under the circumstances – failing to recover the overboard passenger.

When a cruise passenger disappears from a vessel, if they survive, they are entitled to seek legal help to determine whether they may be qualified to receive compensation for their pain and suffering. If the victim is killed, their surviving loved ones may seek legal counsel as well. If you or someone you know was involved in an overboard accident, turn to our maritime lawyers for assistance in filing a claim. You may qualify for damages, and our experienced attorneys will work diligently to help you secure the compensation you rightfully deserve. Call us today and schedule a consultation to discuss your viable options.