A Carnival cruise ship passenger fell overboard into the Gulf of Mexico and was found alive against all odds on Thanksgiving Day — more than 15 hours after vanishing, officials said Friday.
“[It’s] just one of those Thanksgiving miracles,” Lieutenant Seth Gross of the US Coast Guard, told CNN.
The missing 28-year-old man, who hasn’t been identified, was with his sister at the Carnival Valor’s bar at 11pm Wednesday when he took a bathroom break and never came back, the outlet reported.
The sibling didn’t report her brother gone until noon the next day, prompting the Cozumel, Mexico-bound ship to retrace its path toward New Orleans Thursday, Carnival spokesperson Matt Lupoli told the outlet as reported by the New York Post.
Carnival reported the incident to the US Coast Guard at around 2.30pm and search crews quickly launched a rescue mission by land and sea over a 321 km (200-mile) area.
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They found the passenger in the 21C water, about 32 km south of Louisiana’s Southwest Pass at 8.25pm — after getting a tip from someone on a bulk carrier who’d spotted him, rescuers told the local station KPLC TV.
The passenger — who was showing signs of hypothermia, shock and dehydration — told rescuers he wasn’t sure how he’d fallen overboard but confirmed he’d been on the cruise ship.
The man was rushed to a hospital in New Orleans and was being evaluated, officials said.
He was in stable condition Friday.
Overall, the lucky guy likely survived bobbing in the water for more than 15 hours — which Gross called “the absolute longest that I’ve heard about.”
“I think it kind of blows the norm, the normalcy, out of the water here, and really just shows the will to live is something that you need to account for in every search-and-rescue case,” he told CNN.
“He realistically could have been in the water for 15-plus hours before we were able to successfully rescue him,” Gross said.
He said it was unclear where the man fell in the water and how.
This article originally appeared in the New York Post and was reproduced with permission