Woman Goes Overboard From Cruise Ship, Sparking Coast Guard Search

Authorities are searching for a missing cruise ship passenger in the Gulf of Mexico.

The U.S. Coast Guard said it had received a call on Wednesday afternoon saying that a 32-year-old African American woman had fallen overboard from the Carnival Valor cruise ship about 150 miles offshore of Southwest Pass, Louisiana.

A spokesperson for Carnival told Newsweek the woman is thought to have jumped from her balcony.

"Carnival Valor is supporting the search for a guest who reportedly jumped overboard from her balcony on Wednesday afternoon while the ship was at sea," the spokesperson said.

"The ship's command immediately began search and rescue procedures, returned to the area near where the incident occurred and notified the U.S. Coast Guard. Carnival's CARE team is providing support to the guest's husband who was traveling with her."

The spokesman added that media reports that the passenger had been in handcuffs at the time were false.

The ship's crew tossed life preservers into the water and a flare to mark the woman's position, WVUE reported.

A life preserver and the flare could be seen in a video posted on Twitter by someone aboard the Valor. "This is a sad sad day! She was handcuffed when she went over," another person who said they were a passenger on the ship wrote on Twitter.

Coast Guard Aviation Training Center Mobile HC-144A Ocean Sentry aircrew and Coast Guard Air Station Clearwater MH-60T Jayhawk helicopter aircrew are assisting in the search and rescue effort.

The U.S. Coast Guard has been contacted for additional comment.

The cruise ship left Cozumel, Mexico, on Tuesday and is expected to dock in its homeport of New Orleans on Thursday.

The Carnival Valor has a total guest capacity of 3,756 and a crew of approximately 1,180, according to the company's website. The ship has 1,490 staterooms and 13 guest decks.

Wednesday's incident comes after a woman fell overboard from a different Carnival cruise ship in December.

In that incident, a woman in her mid-20s went overboard from the balcony of her stateroom aboard the Carnival Miracle near Ensenada, Mexico in the early hours of December 11.

Coast Guard personnel from San Diego joined the Mexican Navy in search for the woman, but suspended the search after 31 hours.

Also in December, a teenager fell to his death on a cruise ship that was headed for Miami.

The 15-year-old fell from a balcony on the MSC Seashore on December 22 as the ship was returning from a five-day trip to the Caribbean.

Police at the time said no foul play was suspected, but an investigation was underway to determine the exact cause of the boy's death.

Carnival Valor and Aurora
Cruise ships Carnival Valor, left, and Aurora anchored in the English Channel off the Dorset coast on August 18, 2020, in Weymouth, England. Finnbarr Webster/Getty Images

Update 2/17/22, 10:10 a.m. ET: This article has been updated with a comment from a Carnival spokesperson.

Update 2/20/22, 4:00 a.m. ET: This article has been updated with an additional comment from a Carnival spokesperson stating that media reports about the passenger being in handcuffs were false.