There’s more to the story regarding how 20 year old Kendall Wernet, a student at Clemson, died aboard the Carnival Ecstasy than the cruise line disclosed in its carefully crafted PR statement on Monday.
Carnival claimed that Mr. Wernet climbed up onto the cruise ship’s forward mast and "subsequently fell and landed on the deck." But Carnival left out some key facts from its statement.
Mr. Wernet was an outstanding student who was on an "awards cruise" with other top achieving students who decided to walk up to the radar platform at the end of the cruise, according to a news station in South Carolina, quoting the organization owner, Steve Acorn.
"They had seen a group up there the night before and thought it would be a good idea to go there at about 5 a.m. to see the sun rise over Miami," Mr. Acorn says. No drinking was involved.
Mr. Acorn tells WYFF News 4 that a small group of students decided to go to the "top of the front mast to watch the sunrise, and talk about how happy they were in their life, and started planning their next journeys . . . They had been up there for approximately 45 minutes, just talking about life. There had be no drinking or any drugs involved, during that time, or prior. They had witnessed 4-6 individuals do the same thing the previous night. It was not their original idea, and they thought they would do the same for the last night on the ship."
Mr. Acorn said that four students had laid down on the platform, but Mr. Wernet had not. When the radar disc was turned on and began to rotate, it knocked Mr. Wernet to the deck below.
Given the Carnival reputation for out-of-control partying, there was wide-spread speculation that alcohol was involved in the accident. Carnival’s press release about the student "climbing up the mast" created the false image that Mr. Wernet was perhaps a drunk and reckless person, like a scene out of Forrest Gump when Lieutenant Dan climbs to the top of the Jenny shrimp boat.
Carnival claims that the area was "restricted" which raises more questions than provides answers.
Were the "restrictions" enforced? Other students had reportedly gone up on the radar platform the night before without consequence. The students had also reportedly been up on the platform for 45 minutes before the accident. Where were the cruise line security personnel? Was the area protected by a locked door or security fence? Were alarms in place? Were CCTV cameras covering the area and were the cameras monitored? Or was the area "protected" by just a sign?
Carnival needs to spend more time providing greater security measures and protecting its guests rather than writing incomplete and misleading PR statements to protect its reputation.
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October 2 2014 Update: "Personal responsibility" proponents keep in mind that a corporations is considered to be a "person" in the eyes of the law. Unfortunately many people (see below) don’t hold corporations to the same standard as a person. They use the term "personal responsibility" to mean "no corporate responsibility." Of course the passengers have a legal obligation to use reasonable care for their own safety, but corporations also have the legal duty to use reasonable care for their guests’ safety. They go hand in hand. The greater the risk of danger to the passengers, the higher the care owed by the cruise line to the passengers. Carnival apparently used only a "restricted area" sign. It did not cordon off the entrance, didn’t use a lock, didn’t use an alarm, didn’t use CCTV cameras, didn’t monitor the area, didn’t use security personnel, etc.) The cruise line used virtually no reasonable care at all. It just posted a sign, and if all the sign said was "restricted area" that’s not much of a warning.
Does anyone have up close photos of the sign and entrance to the mast / radar tower?
Photo Credit: RyG’s Cruise Guide