HomeOutdoorsViralWATCH: Heart-Pounding Video Shows Moment Coast Guard Rescues Man Who Fell From Cruise Ship

WATCH: Heart-Pounding Video Shows Moment Coast Guard Rescues Man Who Fell From Cruise Ship

by Caitlin Berard
(Photo by Phill Jackson/Royal Princess & Princess Cruises via Getty Images)

Falling from the deck of a cruise ship is not like falling from the edge of the pool or even the end of a high dive. While landing in pool water with improper form can sting, a fall from a cruise ship can be deadly. In fact, the chance of survival from such accidents is slim to none, even if the Coast Guard or onboard staff is there to help immediately.

With that in mind, it’s nothing short of a miracle that a man who fell overboard from a Carnival Cruise ship lived to tell the tale. Especially considering his story is a particularly harrowing one.

On Wednesday night (November 23), a 28-year-old man was enjoying an evening with his sister at the onboard bar of the Carnival Valor. After a few drinks, the man left for a quick trip to the restroom – and never returned. Thinking he had simply gone to bed or possibly even passed out somewhere on the ship, the sister eventually went to sleep herself.

At the noon the following day, however, she still hadn’t found him and finally reported him missing. For hours, announcements echoed through the ship, staff urging fellow passengers to report any sightings of him.

When it became clear that no one on board had seen or heard from the young man since the night before, Carnival staff alerted the Coast Guard, who immediately launched a rescue mission by air and by sea. After six hours of an intense search and rescue mission, one of the crewmen spotted something in the water.

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As they approached, rescuers aboard the Coast Guard MH-60 Jayhawk realized the mystery object was actually a man. And though he was clearly struggling to stay afloat, he was very much alive. After hoisting the man into the helicopter, the crew was astounded to learn that he was responsive.

“He was able to identify his name, confirmed that he was the individual that fell overboard,” Coast Guard Lt. Seth Gross told CNN. “He was showing signs of hypothermia, shock, dehydration” but could walk and communicate.

The 28-year-old cruise ship guest had been in water cold enough to cause hypothermia for a staggering 15 hours. The Coast Guard chalked it up to a “Thanksgiving miracle,” having no other way to account for his miraculous survival.

“The fact that he was able to keep himself afloat and above the surface of the water for such an extended period of time, it’s just something you can’t take for granted and certainly something that’ll stick with me forever,” Gross said.

Lt. Seth Gross has 17 years of experience with the Coast Guard and has never seen anything like it. And it makes sense. Hitting the ocean after falling from the deck of a cruise ship is like jumping from a 100-foot platform onto solid concrete. The impact alone is more than likely to result in a broken neck. And that’s just the start of your problems.

There’s also the risk of the ship’s propellers pulling you under (and through), hypothermia, and drowning due to exhaustion and/or the massive waves of the deep sea. Somehow, however, this man survived all of that and is now in stable condition, recovering in a New Orleans hospital.