The 28-year-old Carnival Valor passenger who was miraculously rescued after spending 15 hours treading water in the Gulf of Mexico disappeared after he was repeatedly told to stop vaping by staff.
A passenger on board the ship, Whitney Gaines, told DailyMail.com that she sat next to the missing man’s family at breakfast the morning after he vanished. The family were talking about how he didn’t come back to his room that night.
Gaines said that his family were talking about how ‘he kept getting in trouble for vaping in non-designated smoke areas, because there’s only one area where you can really go smoke.’
She added: ‘I think they were kind of alluding to the fact that he stepped out to go somewhere.’ Gaines said that the family thought he was inebriated.
According to Carnival’s official website, smoking, including vaping, is only permitted on Decks 3 and 10 on board the ship, as well in the boat’s casino.
A passenger on board the ship, Whitney Gaines, pictured here, told DailyMail.com that she sat next to the missing man’s family at breakfast the morning after he vanished. The family were talking about how he didn’t come back to his room that night
The boat was on its way from New Orleans to Cozumel when the man went overboard
Gaines also said that the missing man’s sister said that she had been with him in one of the ship’s bars. ‘She said he was with me. And then he wasn’t.’
All of the bars on board the Valor close at 11 pm, his disappearance prompted the family to continue to search the ship until 3 am.
It wasn’t until later in the day when Gaines said that she was watching the Macy’s Thanksgiving Day Parade along with her husband that they noticed security guards frantically running around the deck.
She added: ‘Then they started making an announcement for a gentleman. And they announced that multiple times.’
Eventually, Gaines said that she and her husband noticed that the ship was turning around, but there was no announcement made about the search.
Around 9 pm, Gaines said that the captain came on the ship’s PA to say that they had been involved in a search-and-rescue effort but that it had ended and they were cleared to go back on their journey.
The dramatic moment that the missing man was hoisted out of the Gulf of Mexico after 15 hours was released by the US Coast Guard on Friday night. It shows the man desperately trying to keep his head above the swelling waves.
He vanishes for seconds at a time but manages to claw himself back above the swirling water off the coast of Louisiana.
Rescuers finally managed to drag him out the water using a basket suspended from a helicopter in the darkness at 8.25pm.
The Coast Guard said he was suffering from hypothermia and dehydration.
It comes after a tanker spotted the man – who has not been formally named – flailing in the water earlier in the evening.
The incredible footage, released by the US Coast Guard on Friday night, shows the man desperately trying to keep his head above the swelling waves
He vanishes for seconds at a time (pictured, just a hand visible above the water) but manages to claw himself back above the swirling water off the coast of Louisiana
The almost pitch-black clip shows Coast Guard officers scrambling to get to him as he is chucked around by the stormy sea
They carefully lower a basket from the helicopter, and he fails to cling on to it several times before finally finding his grip
He is then winched up towards the helicopter and bundled into the chopper before being medically evaluated
The dramatic new footage, which the rescuers tweeted out late on Friday, showed the daring mission to save the man from the freezing waters off Southwest Pass.
The almost pitch-black clip shows Coast Guard officers scrambling to get to him as he is chucked around by the stormy sea.
They carefully lower a basket from the helicopter and he fails to cling on to it several times before finally finding his grip.
He is then winched up towards the helicopter and bundled into the chopper before being medically evaluated.
The Coast Guard said he was suffering from hypothermia as well as shock and dehydration but was in a stable condition.
They also revealed he told them he was the man who had disappeared overboard but was unable to reveal how he toppled into the ocean.
He also gave them his name, but it has not been released publicly. The man was airlifted to New Orleans and is being treated at a hospital.
Rescuers finally managed to drag him out the water using a basket suspended from a helicopter in the darkness at 8.25pm
The Coast Guard said he was suffering from hypothermia and dehydration, but was able to identify himself as the man who had disappeared
Earlier it was reported that the man’s sister waited until noon the next day to report him missing, according to KPLC 7. The ship was searched, but he was not found. The crew called the Coast Guard at 2.30pm.
Timeline of the race to find the man in the sea for 15 HOURS:
Wednesday 11pm: The man is last seen at the bar with his sister
Thursday 12pm: Sister reports him missing to crew staff
12-2.30pm: Crew searches for the man and cannot find him
2.30pm: US Coast Guard received a call and Carnival Valor begins backtracking toward New Orleans
Unspecific time: Ship is released from search by the Coast Guard
8.25pm: He is spotted by another vessel and rescued by the Coast Guard via helicopter
Total time missing: 21.5 hours
‘We have not been able to confirm when he entered the water, so we’re under the assumption [that] any point from Wednesday on, he could have entered the waterway,’ Lt. Seth Gross, a search and rescue coordinator for the USCGG, told CNN.
‘He realistically could have been in the water for 15+ hours before we were able to successfully rescue him.’
The ship had backtracked toward New Orleans to support the US Coast Guard, before returning on its path to Cozumel, Mexico, after being released from the search.
The man was spotted by another vessel and picked up by helicopter roughly 20 miles south of the Southwest Pass in Louisiana at 8.25pm.
It is unclear how long he spent in the sea. The temperature of the water near New Orleans is about 70 degrees.
Gross said the rescue mission was complicated ‘given the time difference from when he was last seen to when the Coast Guard received notification.’
They sent out an emergency message to all mariners in the Gulf and ‘launched all available resources,’ which included a small boat, helicopter, and airplanes that covered 200 miles of an ‘active search’ area.
‘Time was paramount,’ Gross told CNN.
Carnival provided support to his family while he was missing. His family remains on board the cruise ship and Gross said he spoke with them.
Throughout his 17-year career, Gross said this mission was ‘unlike anything I’ve been a part of.’
‘I think this blows normalcy out of the water here,’ Gross told the outlet. ‘The will to live is something you have to account for in every search and rescue case.
‘This is one of the absolutely longest I’ve heard about and one of those Thanksgiving miracles.’
Lieutenant Seth Gross (pictured) said they found the missing Carnival Cruise passenger, whose identity has not been released, suffering from hypothermia, shock, and dehydration. The man was unable to tell them when he fell off the boat, but is in stable condition
The man was transported back to New Orleans on a helicopter (pictured)
The male passenger was found in the Gulf of Mexico on Thanksgiving Day after going missing from the Carnival Valor (pictured in September). He was last seen at the bar with his sister before he left to use the restroom around 11pm and did not return. His sister waited until noon the next day to report him missing
Gaines’ husband, Mike Anderson, who was also passenger on the ship, said he saw cruise staff searching for the man and heard announcements about a missing person.
‘[I] noticed security starting to search the boat with a photo of the missing [passenger] in their phones,’ he told CNN.
Carnival told DailyMail.com in a statement on Friday: ‘We greatly appreciate the efforts of all, most especially the US Coast Guard and the mariner who spotted the guest in the water.’
The ship will sail to Progreso, on Mexico’s Yucatan Peninsula, before returning to the States on Monday.
The five-day cruise started in New Orleans before arriving in Cozumel by day three. The next day passengers visit another port before returning to Louisiana.
Earlier this year, a woman, 32, jumped overboard after breaking away from security.
Footage shows three security guards on the Carnival Valor holding the frantic woman’s arms behind her back. She was not handcuffed, despite prior claims from passengers.
She was heard screaming out the name ‘Alicia’ as the guards helped her up a flight of stairs and off of the pool deck after an alleged hot tub incident.
Shortly after being escorted off the deck, the 32-year-old woman allegedly broke free from the guards and jumped off the tenth floor of the ship and into the ocean.
Earlier this year, a woman, 32, (pictured) jumped overboard after breaking away from security
Shortly after being escorted off the deck, the 32-year-old woman allegedly broke free from the guards and jumped off the tenth floor of the ship and into the ocean. A passenger claimed they saw ‘blood and jerking motions’ after she went overboard
Her leap was not shown in the video, but passengers told Fox 8 that she hit the side of the boat before hitting the water face first.
Shocked passengers are seen rushing to the edge of ship as crew tossed life preservers and flares to mark her position in the water. The passengers claim the woman disappeared soon after.
A passenger claimed they saw ‘blood and jerking motions’ after she went overboard.