There has never been a roller coaster like this before.
The U.S. Coast Guard has suspended the search for a male passenger who went overboard a Carnival cruise ship in what the cruise line deemed “an intentional act.”
Thomas McElhany, 26, was reported missing from the Carnival Victory early Friday morning near the Florida Keys during the ship’s voyage back to PortMiami, according to a statement from the Coast Guard.
The passenger’s disappearance sparked a manhunt by sea and air that lasted nearly 32 hours, covering 2,086 square miles. The Coast Guard announced Saturday evening that they were calling off rescue efforts.
“I have been in contact with members of Mr. McElhany’s family throughout our search efforts and know this is a very difficult and painful time for them,” Cmdr. David Aldous, Coast Guard 7th District search and rescue mission coordinator, said in a statement .“Suspending a search is one of the most difficult decisions we have to make as first responders, and it is never made lightly.”
Carnival confirmed to USA TODAY that McElhany’s disappearance didn’t appear to be an accident: “Sadly, all the facts surrounding this unfortunate incident indicate it was an intentional act.”
A fellow cruise passenger, Kimberly Wyatt, documented the search efforts onboard, sharing a picture of McElhany that she says was shown throughout the Carnival Victory.
“His photo is being displayed on the television on the cruise ship,” Wyatt tweeted Friday, shortly after McElhany was reported missing. “Security also conducted a room by room, floor by floor search.”
She then tweeted, “According to the cruise line, this man is missing. An intense search is underway right now.”
She shared a letter from Carnival Cruise that confirmed security footage showed the guest going overboard. McElhany had family members onboard the ship, which sailed from Miami to Key West and Cozumel, Mexico.
The Carnival Victory, which boasts a twister waterslide, jogging track and mini-golf among countless amenities, can accommodate up to 2,764 guests and 1,100 onboard crew.
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