Baton Rouge woman speaks about moment woman jumps from cruise ship off Louisiana coast

A Louisiana passenger fell overboard a Carnival Valor cruise ship in the Gulf of Mexico.
Published: Feb. 16, 2022 at 10:45 PM CST|Updated: Feb. 17, 2022 at 5:51 PM CST
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BATON ROUGE, La. (WAFB) - The Coast Guard is searching for a missing cruise ship passenger approximately 150 miles offshore SouthWest Pass, Louisiana. Rescue crews are searching for a 32-year-old African American female. Watchstanders at Coast Guard Sector New Orleans then directed the launch of rescue crews to begin searching.

A Baton Rouge woman who was onboard the Carnival Valor cruise ship talked with WAFB about what she saw and heard. She and other passengers our team spoke with claim something happened in the hot tub area on the 10th deck of the ship around 2:30 p.m. Wednesday, Feb. 16 between the now missing woman and a man. That’s when security was called.

RELATED: Cell phone video shows moments before and after woman jumped from cruise ship

“Security got her out of the hot tub. Whenever they got to take her into custody, apparently she was upset and went over the rail. And, that was at about 2:30,” said Kim Barnette, one of the ship’s passengers and a resident of Baton Rouge.

“And when she jumped off, she apparently hit her head on the side of the boat. And, then she hit the water face first,” said Randy, a passenger.

Cell phone video (see below) of the incident obtained by WAFB’s sister station WVUE FOX 8 shows three security guards holding a woman’s arms behind her back not cuffed. She gets up and screams the name “Alicia” before being helped up a flight of stairs and off of the pool deck. The video then cuts to moments after the woman jumped, and crews can be seen rushing to the edge of the ship to throw in a life preserver.

“There are some lifeboats there that apparently she hit on the way down. Which when it hit, it was pretty loud, and of course, there was a disturbance here on the ship, which made me go on my balcony on deck 7,” said Barnette.

People aboard the boat told WAFB, the mood drastically changed before it docked in New Orleans on Thursday, Feb. 17.

“The feeling onboard the ship right now is a little subdued. Of course, most people are at dinner or in their cabins. There’s not a lot of activity that you see going on board, that you see with people. Because everybody is praying for the family because it’s a pretty bad situation,” said Barnette.

And, passengers are praying for a miracle as the Coast Guard continues to search.

“We continue to pray for the family, and let everybody know that the rest of us are okay on board the Valor. We’re just eating dinner and making the best of a bad situation and praying for the family,” said Barnette.

One woman our team spoke with claims crew members threw a flare in, to mark the woman’s location. But, no one has seen her come up from the water yet.

We do not know the woman’s name yet or where she is from.

The ship left from Cozumel, Mexico around 3:27 p.m. on Tues., Feb. 15. It returned to dock in New Orleans around 10:30 a.m. on Thurs., Feb. 17.

An earlier version of this story included a quote from a passenger saying the woman was in handcuffs. A spokesperson for Carnival Cruise Line denies that.

You can read a full statement from Carnival below:

Carnival Valor supported the search for a guest who jumped overboard from her balcony on Wednesday evening while the ship was at sea. The ship’s command immediately began search and rescue procedures, returned to the area near where the incident occurred and notified the U.S. Coast Guard. Carnival’s CARE team is providing support to the guest’s husband who was traveling with her, as well as her family.

Coast Guard officials took over the search effort and released Carnival Valor on Wednesday evening. Our thoughts are with our guest’s family.

The ship arrived to its homeport of New Orleans on Thursday morning from a five-day cruise to Mexico that departed Saturday, Feb 12 and departed on its next cruise Thursday evening.

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