Newspapers in the United States Virgin Islands are reporting that a Carnival cruise line passenger has gone missing in St. Thomas after disembarking from the Carnival cruise ship on Thursday, August 31, 2017.
The missing passenger has been identified as 26-year-old Regina Gilliam, who is reportedly 5 ft 4 inches in height.
Photographs released by the Virgin Islands Police Department and available online at the Virgin Island Free Press are below.
Ms. Gilliam left the Splendor, after it reached St. Thomas, at 8:19 A.M. last Thursday, but did not to the cruise ship by the time it left port on Thursday afternoon.
Comments posted on the Virgin Islands Consortium are expressing hope that Ms. Gilliam has not been met with foul play, with one person commenting that " . . . we don’t need the cruise ship industry to have yet another reason to pull out."
Carnival pulled out of St. Thomas after one of its guests was shot and killed during a shore excursion there in 2010. We represented the young girl’s family. The case resulted in one of the leading decisions explaining the cruise line’s legal obligation to warn of dangers ashore in the ports of call where it frequents – Eleventh Circuit Court of Appeals: Cruise Lines Have Duty to Warn of Danger of Crime in Ports of Call.
There have been a few cases where cruise ships have left ports of calls without their female crew members who have met with foul pay like this case and this one as well.
Fortunately, most passengers who "disappear" at ports of call in the Caribbean (it seems like most such cases occur in Jamaica like these three, and this one, and these two, and these two as well) eventually turn up safe and sound.
Let’s hope for the best with Ms. Giliam.
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September 3, 2017 Update: According to the comment below, a friend of Ms. Gilliam reports: " . . . she has been found and is awaiting a ride to get back home. She was kidnapped and managed to escape. She ran to the local authorities and now help is on the way . . . " There has been no formal announcement from the Virgin Islands Police Department.
September 4, 2017 Update: The St. Thomas Consortium in an article today states that:
"… on Sunday at around 11:05 a.m., Regina Gilliam approached a Virgin Islands Port Authority (V.I.P.A.) officer at the Cyril E. King Airport and identified herself as the missing person from the Carnival Splendor cruise ship. The V.I.P.A. officer was able to verify that she was indeed Ms. Gilliam, and notified 911 immediately, Mr. Dratte (Public Information Officer)said.
Ms. Gilliam was subsequently interviewed by the V.I.P.D.’s Investigations Bureau as part of the force’s standard procedures for missing persons. An investigation was launched to locate Ms. Gilliam on Thursday, when she did not reboard the ship before it was scheduled to depart St. Thomas at 4 p.m.
Mr. Dratte said the force was working with all relevant authorities to ensure Ms. Gilliam’s health and wellbeing, and to protect the integrity of the investigation."
Of course, this account, which does not explain why she went missing, raises more questions than provides answers.
Photo credit: vifreepress.com