A passenger reportedly drowned on the Caribbean Princess during the last cruise, according to a crew member and a passenger who wish to remain anonymous.
The man, believed to be in his 30’s, was found in the bottom of the Neptune pool on deck 15 of the Caribbean Princess around 5:00 a.m. on the morning of Friday, June 14, 2019. He reportedly had been drinking the previous night during a party on the pool deck (24K Gold Deck Party) and later at the Skywalkers Lounge on the ship. CPR was reportedly performed without success.
The Princess cruise ship was sailing back to Fort Lauderdale on the evening of Thursday, June 13th after visiting Cozumel, Mexico.
The guest had apparently entered the swimming pool which was allegedly closed. (But see update below). It is unknown whether the Caribbean Princess had assigned any security personnel to the pool or to patrol the pool deck during Thursday evening / night or early Friday morning.
This is not the first time that a passenger has drowned on a Princess cruise ship. An eight-year-old girl was in critical condition after being found unconscious in the swimming pool of the Sapphire Princess in August of 2015. A 29-year-old woman drowned in the pool of the same cruise ship a year earlier, in August of 2014. The Maritime Accident Investigation Branch (MAIB) investigated the fatality in question as well as an additional swimming pool death involving a passenger on board the Diamond Princess on June 23, 2015. The MAIB was very critical of Princess for failing to employ lifeguards or conduct a risk assessment of the dangers presented by the swimming pools on the ship.
More recently, a stateroom attendant rescued a passenger on the Star Princess who was drowning in the ship’s main pool after reportedly suffering from heart attack symptoms, according to the Crew Center website.
Regarding the recent drowning on the Caribbean Princess, the decedent’s body will probably be autopsied by the Broward County Medical Examiner’s office after the ship returned to Fort Lauderdale.
The Caribbean Princess was sailing on a seven day cruise, leaving from Fort Lauderdale, Florida on June 8, 2019 to George Town, Grand Cayman, Roatan, Honduras, Belize City, Belize, and Cozumel, Mexico. The Princess cruise ship returned to Fort Lauderdale yesterday (on June 15th).
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June 16, 2019 Update: Another guest on the cruise ship during the cruise contacted me, stating:
“Sir, I can tell you with 100% certainty that this particular pool was not closed when the drowning occurred on Friday morning. My niece and quite a few other passengers were detained when we arrived at Ft Lauderdale on Saturday morning to be questioned by detectives . . . my niece and several of the people she had met and been hanging out with on the cruise left Skywalkers night club around 3 and went down to sit on the pool edge with their feet in the water; the deceased was swimming and others were in and out of the water.”
June 17, 2019 Update: A third guest on the ship during the cruise in question commented:
“I was on the Caribbean Princess on June 8th 2019 sailing when the young man drowned. I was awake at the time when I heard the call at 5.00 am. I was on deck 15 when the medical team and staff were putting the deceased in a body bag. I was talking to a employee at guest services I told her I was up there she questioned me if the pool was covered with the net I told her no. At night time the pools net is supposed to be on this way it prevents somebody going in the pool when it is dark. I was on the Caribbean Princess for 3 months last _____ passing thru the lido deck at 4.00 am I saw many young passengers that were drinking all night sitting on the edge of the pool with there feet in the water. Sometimes the net was on other nights the net was not on. If the net was on this young man would not have been able to get in the pool to go for a swim. Hopefully from now on the net will be put on top of the swimming pool every night. I am going back on the Caribbean Princess on ____. I will be watching to see if the Caribbean Princess start to cover the pool every night.” (dates omitted to maintain anonymity).
The passenger was identified as Stephen Osakue, age 37, who worked as a research pharmacist for the U.S. Air Force. A military publication indicates that he was a major in the Air Force.
June 18, 2019 Update: There are additional comments by guests on the cruise in question via Heavy.com.
June 19, 2019 Update: A newspaper, The Dispatch, in Columbus/Starkville, Mississippi published a comment from an Air Force commander that:
“Major Stephen Osakue was a valued-member of Team BLAZE, the Medical Group, and our pharmacy. He was an airman, a father, a husband, a son, a friend and so much more. This is a difficult time for many across the base, especially his family. Our thoughts and prayers are going out to his wife and children, co-workers, and friends.”
The Broward County Medical Examiner’s Office also stated that it “plans to review video footage from the cruise ship, once Princess Cruises provides it.”
Photo credit: Top – Yankeesman312 – CC BY-SA 3.0, commons / wikimedia; bottom – Military.com.