Search suspended for cruise passenger missing off Florida coast

35-year-old Ronnie Peale went overboard Monday

Ronnie Peale, 35. (Copyright 2023 by WKMG ClickOrlando - All rights reserved.)

JACKSONVILLE, Fla. – The U.S. Coast Guard on Wednesday suspended its search for a man who went overboard from a cruise ship 186 miles east of Jacksonville earlier this week, according to a news release.

Surveillance video showed Ronnie Peale, 35, “leaned over the railing of his stateroom balcony and dropped into the water” around 4 a.m. Monday while traveling on the Carnival Magic cruise ship, the company said in a statement.

Coast Guard watchstanders were contacted by Carnival at 6:36 p.m. on Monday, at which point search and rescue efforts began from the air and sea. Ships with the U.S. Navy and nearby aircraft assisted, the release states.

Lt. Cmdr. Christopher Hooper, Coast Guard District Seven search and rescue mission coordinator, acknowledged in the release that suspending the search was not and never a decision taken lightly.

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“The Seventh Coast Guard District dispatched multiple search and rescue assets as soon as we were notified of the missing person. Our command center watchstanders provided search patterns to cutter crews and air crews who actively searched from Monday through Wednesday evening,” Hooper said. “We offer our most sincere condolences to Mr. Peale’s family and friends.”

A graphic of search patterns conducted by U.S. Coast Guard crews for search and rescue efforts for a missing 35-year-old man who went overboard from a cruise ship 186 miles east of Jacksonville, Florida, from May 29, 2023, to May 31, 2023. Coast Guard crews searched more than 5,171 square miles and 60 hours. (U.S. Coast Guard illustration) (Joe Perez | U.S. Coast Guard District 7 PADET Jacksonville)

The Coast Guard spent 60 hours searching more than 5,171 square miles, releasing the Carnival Magic from search efforts Tuesday and instructing the captain to take it back to port in Norfolk, Virginia, the release states.

The ship can hold nearly 4,000 guests and is about 1,000 feet long.

Anyone with new information was asked to contact the Coast Guard District Seven Command Center at (305) 415-6800.

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About the Author:

Brandon, a UCF grad, joined the ClickOrlando team in November 2021. Before joining News 6, Brandon worked at WDBO.