Man missing from Carnival cruise ship rescued in ‘Thanksgiving miracle’ after day of treading water

A Thanksgiving tragedy was averted when a man reported being missing from the cruise ship Carnival Valor was rescued by the U.S. Coast Guard.

The ship, which departed from New Orleans, was destined for a five-day cruise to Mexico when it was delayed after the sister of the 28-year-old man reported him to be missing the morning after he was last seen at one of the vessel’s bars, according to the U.S. Coast Guard.

Once the Coast Guard received the call at around 2:30 p.m. on Thursday, a search and rescue mission was launched as the Carnival Valor retraced its route to aid in the effort as passengers were notified that their arrival in Cozumel would be delayed.

The search, which reportedly extended 200 miles in the Gulf of Mexico, was successful when the crew of the bulk carrier Crinis spotted the missing man in the water around 8:25 p,m. and a USCG MH-60 Jayhawk was dispatched to the area around 20 miles south of Southwest Pass, where the crew was successful in lifting the man out of the chilly waters.

The Coast Guard posted a dramatic video of the rescue to social media on Friday.

“We are beyond grateful that this case ended with a positive outcome,” said USCG Lt. Seth Gross, a New Orleans sector search and rescue mission coordinator in a statement. “It took a total team effort from Coast Guard watchstanders, response crews, and our professional maritime partners operating in the Gulf of Mexico to locate the missing individual and get him to safety. If not for the alert crew aboard the motor vessel CRINIS, this case could have had a much more difficult ending.”

“The fact that he was able to keep himself afloat and above the surface of the water for such an extended period of time, it’s just something you can’t take for granted and certainly something that’ll stick with me forever,” Gross told CNN.

The exact time of how long that the man was in the water is unknown but rescuers are saying that it could have been as long as 15 hours. He was reportedly responsive but suffering from hypothermia and shock and was in stable condition after being fished out of the water.

If it was that long, it’s “the absolute longest that I’ve heard about — and just one of those Thanksgiving miracles,” Gross said.

(Video: YouTube/KTLA)

On the night of its departure, the man and his sister were enjoying themselves with some liquid holiday cheer at a bar onboard the Carnival Valor when he excused himself to go to the restroom around 11 p.m. and didn’t come back.

The following morning when he still hadn’t shown up, the sister reported him missing at around noon, prompting a search of the ship which came up fruitless before the Coast Guard was notified.

It remains unknown whether the man fell, was pushed, or intentionally jumped off of the ship

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Chris Donaldson


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