US Coast Guard rescues Carnival Cruise ship passenger reported missing in Gulf of Mexico

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(CNN) — In a remarkable act of service and good fortune, a man reported missing from the Carnival Valor sailing in the Gulf of Mexico was found in the water and rescued on Thursday, according to the US Coast Guard.

The missing passenger was found responsive at the time of rescue and was transferred to awaiting emergency medical personnel at New Orleans Lakefront Airport, USCG Petty Officer Ryan Graves told CNN Thursday.

The man was last seen by his sister at a bar aboard the Carnival Cruise Line ship Wednesday night, according to a statement CNN obtained from Carnival spokesperson Matt Lupoli. The sister said the man left the bar around 11 p.m. to use the restroom and never returned to his stateroom.

She reported him missing at noon Thursday, the statement said.

“Carnival Valor retraced its route to support the search and rescue,” Lupoli said, and the ship has since been released by the Coast Guard and is again sailing toward Cozumel, Mexico. The Carnival Valor had left port in New Orleans on Wednesday.

Receiving a call from the cruise ship at around 2:30 p.m. Thursday, the Coast Guard launched a multi-crew search effort by air and sea, Coast Guard Lt. Phillip VanderWeit said in a statement.

After the man was spotted by a crew on another vessel, an MH-60 Jayhawk helicopter aircrew “hoisted the man onto the helicopter,” VanderWeit said.

Mike Anderson, a passenger on Carnival Valor, told CNN that he saw staff members searching for the passenger on Thursday.

Anderson said he began to hear announcements for the missing passenger to check in with guest services, and “noticed security starting to search the boat with a photo of the missing (passenger) in their phones.”

No official announcement was made at the time informing people on the boat what had happened, he said.

At around 2 p.m., the boat turned around to head back, Anderson said. Passengers were told their arrival time to their port of call, Cozumel, would be delayed, he said. Later Thursday evening, an announcement over the PA system informed guests that there had been a man overboard incident, but the ship had been released from the search and was resuming travel to Cozumel.

CNN’s Dave Alsup, Amanda Jackson and Jose Lesh contributed to this report.


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