The Tennessee woman who fell off the Allure of the Seas recently could have been saved if crew members had begun searching for her immediately, her mother said.
Vera Marion claims the captain did not quickly turn the ship around to look for her daughter Ariel Marion, 21.
“They knew she had gone overboard. A lady called and said something from the deck above her fell overboard and hit her arm,” Vera Marion told NBC 6 South Florida. “They immediately cleared off that side of the ship. But they never started the search.”
Ariel Marion fell off the cruise ship about 47 miles east of Fort Lauderdale on Sunday night, Sept. 16, not long after the Royal Caribbean-owned liner left Port Everglades. Her body was never found.
Her mother said the crew informed her of the trouble at 9:30 p.m. The U.S. Coast Guard’s report on the search indicates that the agency was called at 11:30 p.m., and began its official search at 1:20 a.m. Monday.
Vera Marion is distraught about when she says the search began – so upset that she had to be admitted into a hospital in Tennessee.
”It was two hours before I heard them with the radio doing the Oscar call,” she said, referring to an emergency call at sea.
Marion said she believes “they could have saved my daughter if they had begun the search immediately.”
“My daughter could swim a little bit. I told them that. They started asking me could she swim? And that's when I panicked and knew that they knew that she had gone overboard,” she said.
Royal Caribbean International said that the passenger who first called the crew at about 9:25 p.m. didn't know exactly what went overboard.
An hour and two minutes later, at 10:27 p.m., a security officer reviewing surveillance video saw the woman going overboard on the footage, the company said in a statement.
“Once it was confirmed that a guest had gone overboard, the ship's captain stopped the ship, turned around, and alerted the U. S. and Bahamian Coast Guard,” and three ships nearby helped the Allure of the Seas with the search, Royal Caribbean said.
Royal Caribbean did not answer direct questions about what happened between 10:27 and 11:30, which is when the U.S. Coast Guard said it was called in its report. But a company spokeswoman said in an email that Royal Caribbean notified the Coast Guard at 10:53 p.m.
The FBI said that it is investigating the incident.
Royal Caribbean said its “Care Team provided support to the guest’s family and our thoughts and prayers are with them.”
The report of a person overboard to the crew came from a highly credible passenger, Marion family attorney Brett Rivkind said.
”This is a very specific 911 call that a passenger in the cabin below was actually struck on the arm by the person who fell from the cabin above, and reported this immediately,” Rivkind said.