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MIAMI (CBSMiami) – Three passengers that just returned from a 7-day cruise on the Carnival Glory is telling a horrifying tale after witnessing another passenger drown after falling overboard before ship crews could respond in time.
Gary Terry, his wife Dawn and son Dale were out on their balcony after the ship had just embarked from Honduras on Wednesday, August 19th.
That’s when they noticed a body in the water.
“My son was actually the first to see the body,” he explained to CBS4’s Gary Nelson via Skype. “He threw a lifejacket in the water to help mark the position [of the overboard passenger].”
The family then called the ship’s customer service desk to alert them of what was happening, but only got through to someone after the fourth or fifth attempt.
“We asked them to stop the boat, we were trying to get through quite a lot,” said Gary’s son, Dale Terry. “It just seemed like nothing happened, or nothing happened quickly enough. It was just sheer panic to be honest.”
Gary feels as though even communicating with the Carnival personnel was difficult as “they couldn’t speak very good English” but finally was able to explain that the ship needed to turn around to send a boat into the water to help the overboard passenger.
“We had to explain this probably three or four times,” he said.
As the family waited for some kind of response in the water, they kept an eye on the passenger.
“We saw the body twice, and the third time it was right at the back of the boat which is where my balcony was,” he said. “I was screaming down the phone ‘look, get a boat out there’ but it was just taking too long. It took over an hour to get a boat out there.”
Dale said that it took over 45 minutes for the ship to even begin turning around to look for the passenger in the water.
Gary says the situation has left a “lasting trauma” for his 14-year-old daughter. “We had to send her back into the cabin. She was hysterical. She’s 14 years of age, she shouldn’t be seeing something like that. It was handled totally inappropriately.”
Gary told CBS4’s Gary Nelson that the reason he’s reaching out to the media is to try and get some answers as to why there was no rescue attempt for such a long time on a ship the size of the Glory, especially since “they take all these security measures supposedly to stop you getting something like liquor on the boat,” he said.
“I just think it’s wrong. This poor lady, she could’ve been alive to start with but obviously she wasn’t at the end. It was just a sad, sad situation and I don’t think it was handled at all well by Carnival,” he said.
Gary’s wife, Dawn Terry, expressed a similar sentiment as her husband.
“I couldn’t believe so little was being done,” she said. “There was nothing being done to help that woman whatsoever. It was down to the passengers. As passengers, we were asked to look out for her. There was no crew evidence anywhere. Whenever we tried to use the phone to call the emergency you couldn’t get through. You just could not get through.”
CBS4 News reached out to Carnival for a response to what the Terry family had witnessed but the cruiseline only sent back a statement that had been previously released days earlier.
August 20, 2015 – Just before 5pm EDT on August 19, shortly after the cruise ship Carnival Glory had departed Roatan, Honduras, a 65-year-old female guest was reported overboard. Upon receiving notification from witnesses, the ship’s command immediately turned the vessel around to initiate search and rescue procedures and also notified the U.S. Coast Guard and Honduran authorities. The woman’s body was subsequently recovered by the ship’s crew and brought back on board the vessel. Carnival’s Care Team is presently providing support to the individual’s traveling companions. “We extend our heartfelt condolences to the family and loved ones of our guest whose life was sadly lost earlier today.”
The Terry’s say that it was over two hours after their initial call to report the overboard passenger before a rescue boat was in the water.
“By that time we had actually seen [the overboard passenger] pass the boat three times,” Dawn told Nelson. “…before the search boat went in [to the water].”
Because the ship’s itinerary had to be altered after the rescue attempt, Carnival provided each passenger a $50 on-board credit and a 25% discount on a future cruise.