A piece in today’s Times:
A woman who survived ten hours in the Adriatic after falling from a cruise liner is said to have had a row with her partner after drinking all day.
Kay Longstaff, 46, dropped into the water from the seventh deck of the 2,300-passenger Norwegian Star shortly before midnight on Saturday. Fellow passengers alleged that she had been drinking and had fought intermittently with her partner throughout the day.
She told her rescuers that singing and good levels of fitness from practising yoga had kept her alive in the water.
Ms Longstaff, originally from Cheltenham, now lives in Spain and works as a corporate flight attendant on private jets. After being rescued she was taken to hospital in Pula, Croatia, and kept in overnight for observation.
The exact circumstances of the accident have yet to be confirmed but there was speculation last night that she may have fallen in after a row with her partner. Passengers claim to have heard a late-night dispute involving members of Ms Longstaff’s party on the night of the accident. One told The Sun that she had been drinking and had been having rows with her partner all day.
An anonymous source in Italy said that the police were investigating a range of theories, including that Ms Longstaff may have jumped, The Sun’s website reported. Her partner is thought to be Craig Rayment, owner of CR Electrical in Marbella, southern Spain.
Experts said accidents were rare and cruise lines went to great lengths to secure decks with railing and glass. “It is extremely difficult, if not virtually impossible, to just fall off a cruise ship,” Adam Coulter, of the website Cruise Critic UK, said. “When it does happen the person tends to either be very determined, drunk or doing something very stupid such as climbing on the railings.”
The industry does not keep official figures of man-overboard incidents. Unofficial statistics compiled by the Cruise Junkie website suggest, however, that there are an average of 20 accidents a year, most of which end in death. Often the height of the fall and impact on the water, said to be almost the same as hitting concrete, is the primary cause of death. Others drown in the time it takes for a search mission to be launched.
A Croatian navy patrol ship, three civilian vessels and a helicopter began searching for Ms Longstaff at dawn on Sunday after an appeal by the coastguard. Three hours later she was spotted by rescuers on the helicopter swimming more than a mile from where she went into the water, and more than 60 miles from shore. Lieutenant Marina Deli, one of the patrol ship’s crew, was lowered into the water to rescue her. Lieutenant Marina Deli, one of the patrol ship’s crew, was lowered into the water to rescue her. Lovro Oreskovic, captain of the patrol ship, said that Ms Longstaff was exhausted. “We were extremely happy to save a human life,” he said.
Ms Longstaff told reporters that she had been “sitting at the back of the deck [and] fell off the back” of the ship. “These wonderful guys rescued me, I am very lucky to be alive,” she said.
Experts said that her gender and the fact that the sea was warm and calm had contributed to her survival. Mike Tipton, a physiology professor at the University of Portsmouth, said that it was possible to survive for up to 25 hours in water temperatures above 20C.
Norwegian Cruise Line, which owns the Norwegian Star, said that Ms Longstaff had been taken ashore for treatment, was in a stable condition and would soon be reunited with her friends and family.
Fellow passengers said that they were angry with Ms Longstaff for the disruption she had caused. Scott Bailey, a businessman from Derby, wrote: “Just upsets me that she is there smiling away and loving the publicity saying she ‘fell’. The only way you could get off the ship is by climbing over the protective barriers and then jumping.” [J4MB emphasis]
Bethany Joyce, 21, from Long Island, told The Daily Telegraph that her mother planned to claim compensation because they had had to spend an extra two nights in Venice.
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