The U.S. Coast Guard and Cuban search and rescue authorities are searching for a missing 23-year-old man who went overboard the Carnival Victory cruise ship 33 miles northwest of Pinar Del Rio, Cuba. Brandon Paul is the Floral City, Florida resident who is reported to have gone overboard the cruise ship from the eighth deck yesterday at approximately 3 a.m. The ship was sailing from Key West, Florida to Cozumel, Mexico on a four-day cruise.
Carnival is reported to have launched a search boat and contacted the Seventh Coast Guard District Command Center, which directed a search plan and cutter to the area. As of six in the evening the search continued without success.
The Carnival Victory is a thirteen-deck cruise ship and the eighth deck, from which Mr. Paul fell contains passenger cabins, most of which have balconies.
This is the second missing Carnival passenger this year alone. In February, Kevin Wellons, a 24-year-old man went overboard the Carnival Elation about 15 miles of Abaco, Bahamas. In that instance, per multiple reports, review of the CCTV images showed the man falling overboard at approximately 2:45 a.m. However, because Carnival did not equip its ship with an automatic man overboard system, nobody knew of the disappearance until the man was reported missing by his wife at 8:30 a.m. It was not until after a search of the ship and CCTV images, that the U.S. Coast Guard was contacted at 11:00 a.m.
Unfortunately, because most ships are not equipped with automatic overboard systems to immediately alert the bridge when someone goes over a railing on a ship, cruise ships are left to rely on a witness or family member to report missing passengers. Of course, by the time the passenger is reported missing a search is not only more difficult but often futile.
Our sincere thoughts and prayers are with Mr. Paul’s family and loved ones during this difficult time.