News

Cops search for man who fell from cruise ship

By Jenny Yuen, Toronto Sun

Members of  Toronto Police marine unit search near the mouth of the Humber River for a man who fell from a cruise ship. (STAN BEHAL, Toronto Sun)

Members of Toronto Police marine unit search near the mouth of the Humber River for a man who fell from a cruise ship. (STAN BEHAL, Toronto Sun)

Toronto Police continued to cling to hope Sunday that a man who fell into Lake Ontario from a Mariposa cruise ship was still alive.

“The water is 9C and he’s been out there since 7:30 p.m. (Saturday), but we’re not going to presume anything because he might be hanging on to something or he might wash up somewhere unconscious,” Const. John Liggio said Sunday.

Police said that emergency crews arrived around 7:30 p.m. Saturday after the captain of the Northern Spirit called for help. At the time of the incident, the ship was cruising about three kilometres south of the Humber River.

“We’re not going to comment whether he was drinking alcohol or anything, but there was alcohol served on the ship,” said Liggio. “There was people with him when he fell over.”

The Marine Unit, as well as helicopters, continued the search up until midnight Saturday. They resumed the search Sunday at 7:30 a.m. with “100% coverage of the area,” Liggio said.

Investigators were not releasing the man’s identity to the public.

Neetu Godara, a marketing director for Pepsi, was aboard the ship. She declined to speak to media on Sunday, but sent out several frantic tweets as the incident was unfolding.

“Man fell overboard harbourfront cruise police can’t find him Pls send help - more police needed only one boat looking!” she tweeted.

Mariposa Cruises president Jim Nicholson told media Sunday protocols were followed and all 19 members of the ship’s crew have undergone annual marine emergency training and take part in safety drills every two weeks.

There were 427 guests aboard the 41-metre-long vessel, which has a maximum capacity of about 550 passengers. There were also 10 paid security officers present on the 400-tonne triple-decker boat.

Nicholson said a life boat was lowered into the water to look for the missing man when three police boats quickly showed up. The life boat halted its search at that point.

“That’s why some people were confused by that and that’s part of protocol,” he said. “Our boat, in the report that was given to us, was they didn’t have time to get in before the police arrived. Our boat was smaller than what the police boats were and so, we took the boat back up and part of protocol is we wanted to turn our boat around to where the accident happened. As you know a big boat doesn’t stop on a dime.”

Each spring, two safety training days are performed by compliance officers and captains, approved by Transport Canada, Nicholson said. Mariposa has six boats in its fleet with the Northern Spirit remaining docked on Sunday.

“In 28 years being in business, we’ve never had an incident like this,” he said. “We pride our safety and protocol as first and foremost and we’ve never had this happen.”

jenny.yuen@sunmedia.ca

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