Coast Guard searching for missing cruise ship passenger

Posted: Sunday, September 24, 2000

KETCHIKAN (AP) -- The Coast Guard was searching Saturday for an elderly cruise ship passenger who may have fallen overboard.

The captain of the 857-foot cruise ship Dawn Princess alerted the Coast Guard at 10:45 a.m. that a 73-year-old woman from Michigan was missing. The identity of the woman was being withheld pending notification of family.

The ship's crew determined that the woman could have fallen overboard anytime between 4:30 p.m. Friday and 8:30 a.m. Saturday.

The Coast Guard launched a search for the woman, sending two boats and a helicopter to retrace the cruise ship's path. The search area includes Stephens Passage to Hugh Point, Frederick Sound, Chatham Strait, around Cape Decision and from Sumner Strait to Clarence Strait down to Ratz Point, said Coast Guard Petty Officer Roger Wetherelll.

The Dawn Princess departed Juneau at 4:40 a.m. and was on its way to Ketchikan when a cruise ship employee assigned to clean the woman's cabin found her bed had not been slept in. Wetherell said the woman was traveling alone.

The ship's crew checked the ship's computerized system that tracks each time a passenger or crewmember boards or departs the ship, but found no evidence the woman left the ship during its stop in Juneau.

Capt. Bernard John Warner authorized a physical search of the ship. The Dawn Princess' intercom also was used several times to call out for the woman.

Wetherell said heavy fog is hampering efforts to find the woman. Visibility has been reduced from 50-to-100 yards. The ship operated by London-based Princess Cruises was docked in Ketchikan Saturday afternoon.

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