Sunday, December 28, 2008

Coast Guard still searching for Jennifer Seitz

U.S. Coast Guard continue their search for missing cruise ship passenger, Jennifer Seitz
The U.S. Coast Guard and Mexican authorities are searching for an American woman who went missing on a cruise ship near Cancun, Mexico. Jennifer Seitz, 36, may have gone overboard.

Initial reports incorrectly named the passenger as Jennifer Feitz. She has been properly identified as Jennifer Seitz, 36, hometown unknown.

Early Friday morning, Seitz's husband reported her missing aboard the Norwegian Pearl Cruise Ship, which was steaming towards the Caribbean.

"At that particular point, they started a search on the ship and they eventually discovered some recorded tape, the image of a woman going overboard wearing a white bathrobe sometime around 8 o'clock the previous evening. That would be on Christmas night," Capt. Dean Lee of the Seventh Coast Guard District in Miami, Fla., told ABC News.

When it was reported, the Coast Guard joined Mexican authorities in a search of an area 15 miles off the coast of Mexico. Choppy waters added to challenges of a maritime search and the woman has not been located.

"The longer one remains in the water, the more likely they are to become hypothermic and eventually succumb to the elements," Lee said.

This is hardly the first time cruise ship passengers have found themselves off the deck and in the salty waters below.

According to the International Cruise Victims Association, in 2007 alone, 20 passengers went overboard. Many are never found.

George Allen Smith of Greenwich, Conn., disappeared from a Royal Caribbean ship under mysterious circumstances while on his honeymoon in 2005. Investigations into Smith's disappearance continue.

Others are luckier when they go over.

Tim Sears survived a 10-story plunge from a Carnival Cruise ship off the Gulf of Mexico in 2003.

"I was asking God to send me any ship and hear any ship to rescue me. And I just -- it brought me to tears," Sears said at the time.

Sears fell overboard after a late night of drinking onboard.

Investigators are still searching for whatever caused Seitz to go missing.

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