NEW ORLEANS – The U.S. Coast Guard has suspended its search for a cruise ship passenger who jumped from her balcony into the sea and is missing in the Gulf of Mexico.
An airplane had been conducting search patterns off the coast, but Coast Guard officials said Thursday night that the search had been called off after crews searched more than 2,514 square nautical miles.
“The decision to suspend a search-and-rescue case is never one we come to lightly,” said Chief Warrant Officer Tricia Eldredge, command duty officer at Sector New Orleans. “We offer our deepest sympathies to the family during this difficult time.”
The Coast Guard received a called Wednesday afternoon that a 32-year-old woman had fallen overboard from the Carnival Valor cruise ship about 150 miles (240 kilometers) from Southwest Pass, Louisiana, authorities said.
The woman jumped into the ocean from her balcony while the ship was at sea, said Matt Lupoli, a spokesman for the Florida-based Carnival Cruise Line.
“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, as well as her family," Lupoli said in a statement.
“Our thoughts are with our guest’s family," he added.
The Carnival Valor can carry nearly 3,000 guests and 1,180 crew members, according to its website. The ship arrived at its home port of New Orleans on Thursday morning after a five-day cruise to Mexico, Lupoli said.