UPDATE: The U.S. Coast Guard has suspended its search for Kaylyn Rose Sommer Saturday morning. “We are all sons and daughters, and many of our responders have young children themselves. Suspending search efforts is always a painful decision, particularly when it involves a young mother,” Capt. Todd Coggeshall, Incident Management Chief at the Coast Guard’s Seventh District, said in a statement, the Miami Herald reports.
The Mad Decent Boat Party has cut its five-day trip short following an incident Thursday night when a woman intentionally jumped overboard. The cruise was on its way from Miami to Cozumel, Mexico when the woman jumped off the ship. On Friday morning, the ship’s captain alerted passengers that the boat was turning around and heading back to Miami.
“We are deeply saddened by the news that one of our guests on our current cruise went overboard on November 12. The Coast Guard is now leading all search and rescue efforts and the ship is en route back to Miami,” Mad Decent said in a statement Friday. “The safety and security of our guests and the ship’s crew is our number one priority, all appropriate safety precautions will continue to be taken for this and all of our events. Our hearts go out to the family and all involved in this incident, and we will continue to support those affected during this difficult time.”
Rolling Stone spoke to Gabe Somma, a lieutenant commander in the Coast Guard, about the circumstances leading up to the search and how it is progressing. According to Somma, 24-year-old Kaylyn Rose Sommer of Charleston, South Carolina, fell from a height of 80 feet while the cruise ship was traveling at 16 knots (roughly 25 miles per hour) 120 miles southwest of Havana, Cuba. Sommer went overboard at approximately 6:15 p.m. EST; at 6:55 p.m. EST, the Coast Guard was notified and immediately joined the search-and-rescue efforts.
“The harsh reality here is you have a young woman that went overboard from a very high level off a cruise ship without a life jacket,” Somma says. “Every search case is evaluated on a case-by-case basis. You’ve got to consider her age, her health, her state when she went in the water, the height when she fell in the water … I can’t say that’s unsurvivable, but it’s a dire situation.”
After nearly 18 hours of searching throughout the night and since first light Friday morning, the Coast Guard has seen “no sign” of Sommer. The Coast Guard has deployed a Coast Guard C-130 plane, Coast Guard Cutter Alligator coastal patrol boat, a 87-foot patrol boat and drift-modeling programs to assist in the search, which will cover a 22×22 nautical mile area. Due to the incident’s proximity to Cuba, the Cuban Coast Guard also deployed a ship to help in Sommer’s search.
“Search conditions are good. The seas are only two feet,” Somma said of rescue efforts, adding that hypothermia isn’t likely an issue due to Florida’s unseasonably hot weather. “Our concerns are there is a 24-year-old woman in the middle of the ocean with no life jacket.” Despite this being the second case this week in which a passenger went overboard off a cruise ship, Somma reiterated, “it’s important to understand this is an isolated incident.”
Neither Mad Decent head Diplo nor any other members of the label were immediately available for comment. A spokesperson for Norwegian Cruise Line confirmed to Rolling Stone, “The cruise was not cancelled; the port call to Cozumel will not be happening and the ship is returning to Miami as scheduled.”
“On Thursday, November 12 during a chartered cruise on Norwegian Pearl, a female guest was observed intentionally going overboard from a stateroom balcony while the ship was sailing the Yucatan Channel,” Mad Decent said in a statement following the incident Thursday night. “The ship’s crew immediately initiated rescue measures, including deploying multiple rescue boats and notifying the Coast Guard and other relevant authorities.”