UNITED STATES – According to an online news story from qz.com, cruise ships in the United States see a higher number of passengers falling overboard than one might expect. Cruise companies have historically not been required to take many precautions to prevent these occurrences.*
Data show that 284 people have fallen off of U.S. cruise ships since 2000. This equals about 1.5 people falling every month. Another 41 people have fallen off of large ferries in the same time. The numbers are the same on a global scale — about one to two people fall from a cruise ships around the world each month. Only 17 to 25 percent of these people are rescued.
One passenger who fell from a U.S. cruise ship and was not rescued was Samantha Broberg. Broberg was on a Carnival Liberty cruise ship on May 12, 2016, and was served excessive amounts of alcohol. A lawsuit against the cruise company alleges bartenders on the ship served her 19 drinks in one evening. Broberg then walked out to a deck on the ship, sat on the deck railing, and fell overboard. Her disappearance was not reported until the following morning, and crew members did not discover she had fallen until the afternoon.
Early detection of falls is key to saving passengers. The more time that passes between a fall and the onset of search and rescue by the Coast Guard, the less likely it is for a fallen passenger to survive. Technology exists today that will sense a falling body and alert crew members, but this technology, by way of U.S. federal legislation, is not required for ships. The Carnival ship Broberg was on board did not have the technology.
Cruise companies have avoided installing the expensive detection and alarm systems by telling the public that man-overboard events do not occur but for the intentional or reckless acts of passengers. In other words, the companies claim there is nothing they can do to save people from themselves.
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