Whistler mountain bikingLast night our family arrived back in Miami after a three week vacation in the Pacific North West.  We enjoyed Pike Place Market in Seattle, kayaked in the Orcas Islands (amazing), mountain biked in Whistler, and hiked Mt. Rainier.  What a blast.

Aside from a spectacular wipe-out on a mountain bike trail by my youngest son, we returned to Miami safe and sound.  

Given the nature of my profession, I am ever mindful that some family vacations do not turn out to be happy memories. 

An experience while visiting Orcas Island reminded me of that.  My wife and law partner Lisa was visiting a quilting store when she overheard the store owner talking about just returning from a Holland America cruise to Alaska with her partner.  Lisa asked how they enjoyed the cruise.  The store owner’s face turned grim.  She paused and said a young man disappeared during the cruise.     

The store owner was referring to twenty year old Blake Kepley, who disappeared during an Alaskan cruise with his family aboard Holland America’s Oosterdam on July 22nd.  Like many cruise ship disappearances, the cruise line has not disclosed whether there are closed circuit television images of the young man which may explain what happened.  This lack of transparency causes great stress to the surviving family members who must struggle not only with the misery of losing a child but the confusion of not knowing what really happened.

Kayaking Orca's IslandWhen I hear of incidents like this, I see images of other young men and women who have disappeared from cruise ships without explanation.  Like Amber Malkuch from Holland America’s ZandaamRebecca Coriam from the Disney WonderMerrian Carver from the Celebrity Mercury MercuryAngelo Faliva from the Coral Princess, George Smith from Royal Caribbean’s Brilliance of the Seas, and Amy Bradley from Royal Caribbean’s Rhapsody of the Seas.

I do not know how these families endure their grief.  In the case of Amy Bradley, the Bradley family has suffered through twelve years of missing their daughter with no answers from the cruise line. 

When I hear of incidents of loved ones lost at sea I pray that my children, and all children, remain safe when they travel and vacation.  And when I return home, I am thankful that my family stayed safe from harm.    

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