By Tasha Martinez
Posted by Rachel Leigh email
VERO BEACH, FL (WFLX) - The search and recovery mission continues Friday morning for a Carnival Cruise line employee who fell off a ship early Thursday morning near Vero Beach.
The Coast Guard tells Fox 29 the man fell into the ocean about 20 miles east of Vero. But with the current and winds, they are shifting the search grid south near Fort Pierce.
This is what we know so far: The employee fell off the Carnival Cruise Ship Sensation just minutes after the New Year Thursday morning. At least six crew members and several passengers saw it.
Some of the those passengers talked about the fall that happened during a New Year's Eve party. They say the 26-year-old employee was an entertainer on the ship - many watching him just two hours before he went overboard.
The ship was just 20 miles off the coast near Vero Beach headed toward Port Canaveral from the Bahamas.
"He got up somewhere, and he slipped. The wind took him and off he went. The waters were rough, lots of white caps and big swells," said one passenger.
Another added, "It was a really good party, and, then, this tragic thing happened. It's affected the whole ship, and you can see it in everybody's eyes. It's just so sad."
We're told the employee fell about 80-feet into the water. The ship immediately docked while the Coast Guard searched the dark waters. Again, the Coast Guard will continue their search for the missing employee Friday; this time near Fort Pierce because, they believe, heavy winds may have caused him to drift down south.
This is the second time in a week that the Coast Guard was called out to search for a missing person from a cruise ship. Passenger Jennifer Seitz was reported missing from the Norwegian Pearl last Friday while off the coast of Cancun.
She and her husband are from Winterhaven in Central Florida. Her family believes she purposely jumped from the boat stating she had "previous emotional issues".