This file photo shows the Holland America Westerdam in Southeast Alaska. (National Park Service | Courtesy Photo)

This file photo shows the Holland America Westerdam in Southeast Alaska. (National Park Service | Courtesy Photo)

Park Service suspends search for overboard cruise ship passenger

Man went overboard in Glacier Bay on Friday

After a day-long search that spread across the waters and shores of Glacier Bay, the National Park Service suspended its efforts Saturday for a man who went overboard from a cruise ship Friday.

The man 69, was aboard the Holland America Westerdam as it embarked from Vancouver, B.C. on July 8 and passed through Juneau on July 11, according to a statement from Holland America. At 3:50 p.m. Friday, the man’s wife reported him missing, according to the statement, and the ship’s crew began searching the vessel.

After coming to the conclusion that the man was not on board, the ship’s staff contacted NPS at around 7:30 p.m. Friday, according to a release from NPS. NPS Public Information Officer Matthew Cahill said 15 NPS staff members were involved in the search and rescue effort that lasted about 24 hours. Cahill said NPS also used three boats and a fixed-wing aircraft to search.

NPS boats weren’t the only ones in the water, Cahill said.

“There were a lot of private vessels in the bay that were participating, and then there were the charters and the day tour boat as well,” Cahill said. “We had a minimum of two Park Service vessels at any given time during the search inside and right outside the mouth of Glacier Bay.”

There was no sign of the missing man, according to the NPS release. Coast Guard Public Affairs Officer LTJG Nicholas Capuzzi said Monday that the area is NPS authority, and the Coast Guard has not assisted with the search since NPS suspended its search at 7 p.m. Saturday.

Cahill said the search spanned from the south end of Drake Island out into Icy Strait, and that searchers also scanned the Pleasant Island and Lemesurier Island (both in Icy Strait) shorelines. Cahill said the U.S. Coast Guard assisted NPS with determining drift patterns, estimating where the man might have drifted in the water from the place where he was believed to have entered the water.

According to the Holland America statement, CCTV security camera footage showed that the man went overboard early that morning. Cahill said it was around 6:45 a.m. Holland America Vice President Sally Andrews did not comment on whether there was any indication that the man went overboard intentionally. The man is a U.S. citizen, according to the Holland America statement, but his name has not been released.

Cahill said there are fairly frequent incidents of people being in distress in Glacier Bay — for example, two hikers and four kayakers all needed the Coast Guard to rescue them just this weekend — but this specific scenario is not common.

“As far as overboard from cruise ships, it’s fairly rare,” Cahill said. “I would say really a matter of many years in between each one in Glacier Bay.”

• Contact reporter Alex McCarthy at 523-2271 or Follow him on Twitter at @akmccarthy.

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