Contributors

Charles R. Lipcon
Charles R. Lipcon is the firm's founding attorney and has been handling injury, cruise line sexual assault and wrongful death claims for over 40 years. Read More »
Jason R. Margulies
Jason R. Margulies is an experienced maritime lawyer and an active trial attorney handling personal injury, cruise line sexual assault and wrongful death claims. Read More »
Ricardo V. Alsina
Ricardo V. Alsina is an active trial attorney, handling personal injury, cruise line sexual assault and wrongful death claims. Read More »
Michael A. Winkleman
Mr. Winkleman is an active trial and appellate attorney handling all personal injury, cruise line sexual assault and wrongful death claims, as well as complex business disputes. Read More »

Articles Posted in Cruise Disappearances

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Disney Magic, Royal Caribbean, overboard passenger, cruise ship safety, maritime attorneysIn our last blog, we discussed the strange cruise ship overboard accident that has made headlines across the nation. A Royal Caribbean Oasis of the Seas passenger mysteriously fell overboard last week and was rescued by the Disney Magic. But there are several questions left unanswered.

Witnesses aboard the ship explain that several passengers heard victim while he was in the water crying out for help. After passengers spotted him, the crew of the Disney Magic began a rescue mission. Passengers were able to throw life vessels out to the victim, identified as 22-year-old Frank Jade, and he was subsequently taken to a hospital and treated for his injuries.

What’s strange about the incident is that the victim has no recollection about how he fell into the sea. Fortunately – and quite shockingly – he suffered no major injuries as a result of the accident, but our maritime attorneys are left wondering about the real details surrounding the incident and how this passenger could have even survived in the water for so long. If he has no memory of falling, it could mean he lost consciousness. But if the victim was unconscious, how did he stay afloat? Something just doesn’t seem right.

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Disney Magic, Royal Caribbean, man overboard, rescue, maritime attorneysWhen a 22-year old man fell overboard a Royal Caribbean cruise ship near Cozumel, Mexico last week, the crew on Disney Magic were put on alert. Finding a passenger who has fallen into the vast ocean is extremely difficult, even for trained Coast Guard personnel, as we discovered in the case of Robert Konrad who fell off his boat and wasn’t spotted by Coast Guard, even after they shined their lights right on him. In a man overboard situation, all people available to scan the water should be asked to help to spot a fallen passenger. It can be very challenging to spot a person in the water, especially if he or she isn’t wearing a life jacket.

Miraculously, the Disney Magic was able to find and rescue the victim. However, the accident raises several concerns, not only calling into question the safety tactics and protocols of both Disney and Royal, but those of the cruise industry as a whole.

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stay safe on your cruiseImagine this: you’re out for your morning walk on the beach. It’s the day after Christmas and the sun is shining. You look out into the water and realize that something isn’t right. Something that is in the water shouldn’t be there. You take a closer look. Your curiosity becomes horror as you realize what it is you are looking at.

For the innocent bystander who found the body of a Holland America crew member, this scenario was reality. The body of Cliford B. Minej washed up on a Florida beach just five days after his cruise ship returned home without him. His body washed up at around 7:15 a.m. on Clearwater Beach. He was reportedly found wearing a t-shirt and shorts.

Unfortunately, man overboard situations on cruise ships are more common than the public would like to think. Since 2000, over 200 people have died as a result of falling overboard.

Investigators are still trying to determine what went wrong. It is unclear whether the man jumped to his death or fell off the ship by accident. The Pinellas County Medical Examiner has thus far ruled the man’s death an accident.

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Sun PrincessJust last week, we discussed a rather disturbing video we saw regarding a Carnival Cruise Line passenger who purposefully jumped overboard from the ship as it approached the port of Grand Turk. We say disturbing because there have been 239 cruise passenger overboard accidents in the past decade alone, and this individual’s choice to jump ship makes a mockery out of those victims’ suffering – along with their families’ suffering. This man is lucky to be alive, as it is a rare few that actually survive falling overboard. We don’t know what got into him. Maybe he thought it was funny? Maybe he just wasn’t thinking? Either way, it was a careless decision – and careless is putting it lightly.

Overboard accidents are no laughing matter. Hundreds of people have lost their lives after falling overboard – and many of these accidents remain unsolved cruise passenger disappearance crimes and mysteries to this date. Purposefully jumping off the ship is an extremely dangerous thing to do. If you feel the urge to jump, jump into the pool on your ship, or jump up and down on your stateroom’s bed. Jumping 60 feet off a ship into waters that you have no idea what’s lurking within is extremely reckless and will most likely result in a fatality.

But while one person is busy poking fun at jumping overboard, the family of one actual overboard victim is now grieving for the loss of their loved one. Our maritime lawyers were saddened to learn that the search for a cruise passenger who fell from a Princess Cruises ship was called off.

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Carnival passenger jumps overboard on purposeYesterday, we discussed a pretty strange, rare, and honestly, rather foolish decision made by a Carnival Cruise Line passenger. The individual decided, whether because he thought it was funny, was intoxicated, or because he did not fully comprehend the gravity of his actions, to purposefully jump overboard into the waters off the coast of Grand Turk.

We cannot stress how dangerous his decision was, as he is lucky to be alive. You already heard what our offshore injury lawyer thought on the matter; now check out what the jumper himself had to say about the incident. His testimony – and a video documenting the entire jump – is available for the whole world to see (and be dumbfounded by).

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Coast Guard helicopterIn our last blog, our firm discussed a tragic accident involving a Carnival Spirit crew member. The victim, who allegedly worked in the ship’s kitchen, was reported missing July 8 after failing to report to his station and was presumed to have fallen overboard. The area where the victim was presumed to have fallen overboard was scoured, but sadly, the search for the missing man was called off the following day.

Carnival alleges the vessel was turned around immediately after a shipboard search did not find the missing man and the appropriate authorities were notified. But is there more to this accident than meets the eye? Did Carnival follow protocol or could something more have been done to try and save the crew member?

An article in the Sydney Morning Herald online site discusses a Carnival Spirit passenger’s testimony that is rather alarming. The passenger, who wished to remain anonymous , told Fairfax Media that an announcement had been made at around 9:30 am on July 8 informing those on board that a crew member had gone missing. However, the passenger claims the ship did not turn around until around 2pm. The passenger also added that it is possible the crew member could have been missing since the previous night, when the ship left Vanuatu.

The passenger’s recount, if accurate, could mean quite a bit for Carnival. For one, it could mean the ship’s operators did not initiate a search as quickly as they should have and if so, may be held liable for the crew member’s death.

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Coast Guard helicopterAs any maritime injury lawyer can tell you, accidents involving cruise ships are more common than anyone can imagine. Several factors can cause an accident, including mechanical failure, captain error, inexperienced crew and overall negligence on a cruise line’s part in maintaining a safe shipboard environment. But while there are many different types of incidents that can transpire on the high seas, a large number are, unfortunately, fatal.

One of the most common types of cruise ship accidents (and also one of the most fatal) is an overboard accident. Since 1995, over 200 overboard accidents have been reported across various cruise lines. Some of these accidents have been caught on a ship’s security footage, while many are not, making it extremely difficult to determine whether the victim went overboard as a result of their own actions, the cruise line’s negligence in maintaining safe conditions on board, or because of another’s criminal actions. Since evidence is not available in all overboard cases, many of the victims’ loved ones are never able to obtain the justice or closure they deserve.

This is incredibly frustrating given the fact that negligence is almost always a factor in these types of accidents. Negligence in the sense that most cruise lines doesn’t have sufficient security cameras throughout a vessel to capture victims going overboard the moment it happens or sufficient security personnel monitoring each deck. Negligence also in the sense that cruise lines have yet to install radar detection technology that will alert crew members when someone has fallen overboard. This technology is especially critical because it can ensure a ship is stopped immediately and that a search for the missing person(s) is initiated right away.

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Coast Guard helicopterOverboard accidents are one of the most common types of accidents onboard cruise ships. Since 1995, a total of 231 overboard accidents have been reported. In the first few months of this year alone, 11 people have been reported missing from cruise ships, some of which were caught on camera falling or jumping overboard, while the circumstances surrounding the other accidents continues to remain a mystery.

Sadly, another overboard accident was recently reported near Florida, and the likelihood of rescuing the victim grows dimmer with each passing day.

According to news reports, the victim was James Miller, 30, of Charleston, South Carolina.  Crew members reported Miller jumped over the railing of the Bahamas Celebration cruise ship, operated by Celebration Cruise Line, while the vessel was en route to its home port in West Palm Beach.

The accident happened around 27 miles east of Delray Beach, which is a relatively short distance to port when considering the likelihood of finding and rescuing the victim.  But while cruise officials argue the Bahamas Celebration crew turned the ship around the moment they realized Miller was missing, by the time they reached the area, Miller was nowhere in sight. Coast Guard members initiated a search for Miller, while the Bahamas Celebration continued along its scheduled itinerary.

Is the cruise ship somehow responsible for this tragedy? According to the family of the missing man, the answer is yes.

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Life saverEvery day this week, our cruise ship accident attorneys have been reporting on several overboard accidents that have taken the lives of several innocent people. Some of these accidents have been captured on the ships’ video surveillance systems, while others we know very little about. What we do know is that so far, one 26-year-old male Royal Caribbean passenger, one 65-year-old male Royal Caribbean passenger, and one 34-year-old Princess Cruises crew member have gone overboard. The 26-year-old passenger and the crew member have reportedly jumped from their vessels, but what about the other victim? Why don’t we have any information on his accident or the moments leading up to it?

Aside from these three tragedies, yet another overboard accident has been brought to our attention. An 88-year-old woman allegedly went overboard from the Holland America cruise ship Veendam while the vessel was sailing off the coast of Mexico on Jan. 3.

Passengers on the same itinerary took to social media to voice their concerns, saying that the incident was shrouded in mystery. Some say the woman committed suicide, but no one was sharing information. Others say the crew announced a “man overboard” emergency and ordered travelers to remain in their cabins.

So what exactly happened?

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SOS man overboard rescue missionThe new cruise year hasn’t exactly started off the way our maritime lawyers had hoped. We were hoping that maybe, just maybe, 2014 would be the year where the cruise industry finally takes a stand against accidents and crimes and puts forth maximum effort to protect both passengers and crew members on their ships. Our attorneys were hoping that perhaps, cruise lines would shift a little of their focus on improving safety technology on their vessels in order to prevent tragic accidents and crimes from happening, or at least to drastically reduce their occurrence rate. With so much new and exciting technology that can help increase maritime safety, including infrared detection systems that can play a vital role in rescuing victims who go overboard, we were really thinking cruise lines might make a significant change for the better.

Unfortunately, 2014 hasn’t started out quite as we had hoped. Instead, there have already been several accidents, including more overboard accidents. Two Royal Caribbean passengers have gone missing in the first week of the New Year. We reported on the matter just last week, when we learned that a 26-year-old Canadian man allegedly “jumped” off the Adventurer of the Seas as the vessel was sailing near Puerto Rico, as per the ship’s video surveillance footage. Then, just days later, another Canadian passenger, this time a 65-year-old man sailing onboard the Independence of the Seas, disappeared in the middle of the night. Police suspect this victim “fell” off the ship, but with the abundance of surveillance cameras on this ship as well as the Adventurer, how is it that we have no concrete knowledge of what happened to him?

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