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Carnival Cruise Lines Announces Drowning of Six-Year-Old Passenger

Oct 15, 2013

According to a statement issued by Carnival Cruise Lines, a six-year-old boy drowned in a pool on a Carnival Ship while at sea.

The Carnival Victory was on the last part of its four-day cruise of the Caribbean this Sunday when the boy drowned in a midship pool, according to The Associated Press (AP). The boy was with other family members at the time of his drowning, the statement indicated. "To the best of our knowledge it is the first time a child has drowned aboard one of our ships," Carnival spokeswoman Joyce Oliva said in an email to The Associated Press.

On Monday, the ship arrived at Port Miami with 3,094 guests and 1,100 staff, according to Carnival, the AP wrote. "Carnival extends its heartfelt sympathy to the family during this very difficult time. The company's CareTeam is providing assistance and support," Carnival said in its statement.

The drowning is being investigated by the Miami-Dade Police Department and the boy has been identified as Qwentyn Hunter of Winter Garden, Florida, according to the AP. Those investigating the matter said that Qwentyn was with his 10-year-old brother in the pool at the time of his death. Ship’s passengers pulled Qwentyn from the water immediately and began performing CPR. He was pronounced dead at the scene. According to police, they do not suspect foul play and the boy’s drowning appeared to be accidental, the AP wrote.

The boy was seen underwater by passengers, according to the police report and one witness account, CNN wrote. One passenger told CNN that the incident caught people a bit off-guard. A DJ saw that Qwentyn was struggling in the water and stopped the music. A guest jumped into the pool, fully dressed, and pulled Qwentyn out, according to CNN. A crewmember tried to revive the boy, to no avail. “It was a lot of chaos, people were going crazy, people were praying, they had their hands to the sky. It was a scary scene, seeing a little boy just lifeless,” the passenger told CNN.

"There were a lot of adults, but why wasn't anyone watching the kids?" the passenger asked. "You'd think Carnival would have lifeguards around the pool," he noted, according to CNN. In an email Carnival Cruise sent to CNN, Oliva said Carnival does not have lifeguards on duty at its pools; parental supervision is required for children under 13.

"We do not have lifeguards on duty at our pools. As with many land-based hotels and resorts with swimming pools, cruise ships provide conspicuous signage to alert passengers that a lifeguard is not on duty," Oliva said in an email statement, according to NBC News Miami. "In this case, there was a parent present at the time of the incident. The shipboard medical team was summoned via an emergency call and arrived on the scene promptly," she pointed out, adding, "To the best of our knowledge it is the first time a child has drowned aboard one of our ships."

"There is no industry policy or regulation requiring lifeguards but cruise ships do provide conspicuous signage to alert passengers that a lifeguard is not on duty, which is the same practice as many land-based hotels and resorts with swimming pools," said David Peikin, Cruise Lines International Association spokesman, in a statement, NBC News Miami reported. "In the event of an incident, oceangoing cruise ships have experienced physicians and nurses that are able to provide emergency medical treatment and care for passengers as needed."

Last month, the body of a 41-year-old man was found in a hot tub aboard the same vessel where Hunter died. The man was an apparent drowning victim according to NBC News Miami. Last year, another small boy almost drowned aboard a Disney cruise. Since, Disney has begun adding lifeguards to its fleet during pool operating hours.

Carol Finkelhoffe, chairwoman of the Cruise Line & Passenger Ship Committee of the Maritime Law Association of the U.S., pointed out that not every onboard cruise ship drowning is reported, and said that, "they are common enough that they happen." Finkelhoffe also said that, "Someone should be watching the pool. It's foreseeable that these types of accidents can happen ... and they should do something to prevent them," according to NBC News Miami.

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