Queensland Police have made a statement about the death of a 47-year-old Brisbane mother who fell overboard from the P&O cruise ship Pacific Dawn this week, saying that the circumstances were not suspicious, but that her death was likely not accidental.
A frantic search was conducted for the woman when she went overboard west of New Caledonia on Thursday afternoon, but the search had been called off by Friday morning, when it was decided that survival would not have been possible after a full night at sea.
Early reports suggested that a freak wave, alcohol or sea sickness may have played a part, but speaking to media at Brisbane’s Portside Wharf this morning, Inspector Rob Graham explained the circumstances behind the tragedy, saying:
“The missing person did not accidentally fall … (and) did not fall as a result of a freak wave. I can say that the missing person did make intentional actions to propel herself overboard. I can say that a male person, her husband, was standing right next to her when she went over. I can also say that her husband tried in vain to grab her as she went over, by grabbing onto her legs, but she was too far gone.”
“This wasn’t an accident. Let’s be open and honest about mental health. It’s a tragic end to what should’ve been a lifetime holiday experience for a loving family.”
When the search was called off, the captain of Pacific Dawn made an announcement over the PA system, telling passengers: “It is with a very heavy heart that I need to let you know that we have been unable to locate our guest.”
Inspector Graham praised P&O for its handling of the situation, saying that “every one” of the passengers will be affected in some way, but noting the fact that a support crew, including psychologists, was made available for those who needed it.
Carnival Australia, which operates Pacific Dawn, has promised its full cooperation with the police investigation, saying:
“We will be able to give police CCTV footage providing an unobstructed view of what happened and portraying an obviously devoted and loving couple. We extend our deepest condolences to the family and hope that they will find comfort in their grief.”