The FBI concluded its investigation into the disappearance of a Florida woman who fell from a cruise ship on Christmas night two years ago. The investigation concluded there was no foul play involving a passenger going overboard the Norwegian cruise ship the Norwegian Pearl.
When the FBI began its investigation they were trying to determine whether the passenger Jennifer Ellis-Seitz, 36, from Winter Haven had actually fallen overboard by accident, possibly jumped or was pushed or thrown overboard. She and her husband Raymond Seitz Jr. were celebrating their first wedding anniversary on a seven day cruise on the Norwegian Pearl.
Ellis-Seitz was a freelance writer in Central Florida. Her family released a statement stating that she was previously having emotional problems and had probably chosen to end her life.
The cruise line was able to provide surveillance footage showing the passenger falling about 15 stories into the waters east of Cancun, Mexico.
Her husband and her mother, who was also onboard, searched the ship looking for her for more than an hour before reporting her missing to the ship’s security. Before Norwegian Cruise Line security called the U.S. Coast Guard they searched the entire vessel for the missing passenger who had disappeared during her anniversary cruise.
Due to such a long time from the time the passenger disappeared until the Coast Guard was alerted, search efforts on the part of the U.S. Coast Guard were futile.
The FBI concluded its investigation and efforts with “insufficient evidence to prove any crime was committed”. This has become the common conclusion reached by the FBI after investigations into disappearances onboard cruise ships. There have been many reported passengers who have gone overboard and disappeared during a cruise onboard a major cruise line company. Because the body is rarely found, there is usually insufficient evidence available to reach a conclusion as to what occurred. In addition, the cruise lines have been criticized for the lack of proper investigations and reporting of such incidents. The disappearance of George Smith during his honeymoon cruise aboard a Royal Caribbean cruise ship is such an example. Our wrongful death firm represented the parents of George Smith. As of the date of this writing, the Smith family still has not received answers to what happened to their son.
The disappearances and overboard incidents let to congressional hearings regarding reporting requirements of cruise ship companies as well as safety aboard cruise ships. The Cruise Vessel Security and Safety Act was passed by Congress and signed into law by President Obama on July 28, 2010, which addresses several of the reporting and safety concerns.
A cruise remains a great way to take a vacation. However, stay aware and alert of your surroundings as you should when you are in the city. There are dangers aboard a ship it is no all sun and fun, although it can be. Increased awareness of the dangers can go a long way to have a safe and enjoyable cruise.