A desperate search has been launched for a missing man who fell from a Carnival cruise ship balcony nearly 200 miles off the coast of Florida.
Ronnie Lee Peale Jr., 35, was seen on surveillance footage leaning over the railing of his stateroom balcony on the Carnival Magic before plunging into the water around 4am on Monday, the cruise line said.
Aircraft and search ships have been deployed in the area where he disappeared – around 186 miles east of Jacksonville in Florida.
The ship had been making its way back to port in Norfolk, Virginia, on Monday following a five-day trip around the Bahamas.
Jennilyn Michelle Blosser, who said she was Peale’s fiancé, reported him missing on Monday afternoon.
Ship staff later looked at security video and saw his fall after they failed to find him during a search.
‘He was the life of the party. It just hurts too much to even type, let alone talk about it,’ Blosser told 13 News.
‘He loved the cruise life being able to drink, gamble, and socialize put him in his happy place.’
Ronnie Lee Peale Jr., 35, was seen on surveillance footage leading over the railing of his stateroom balcony on the Carnival Magic before plunging into the water around 4am on Monday. He’s pictured with his fiancé, Jennilyn Michelle Blosser
Peale’s fiancé said that it was his first cruise and they were celebrating her birthday
Aircraft and search ships have been deployed in the area where he disappeared – around 186 miles east of Jacksonville in Florida
Blosser has since launched a GoFundMe where she said he ‘had a great time and made plenty of friends’.
‘He is our social butterfly that was always on the move and loved to make friends with everyone. The cruise was definitely a place he enjoyed.
‘I never could of imagine something like this could happen. Devastated to say the least.’.
USCGSD confirmed the man was still missing on Tuesday afternoon.
The service said in a statement: ‘Crews are searching for a 35 year-old man who went overboard from the Carnival Magic cruise ship 186 miles east of Jacksonville on Monday.
‘The Coast Guard is utilizing both air and water assets to conduct the search’.
The service said in a statement: ‘Crews are searching for a 35 year-old man who went overboard from the Carnival Magic cruise ship 186 miles east of Jacksonville on Monday
An update posted by the Coast Guard Tuesday revealed crews would search through the night
Blosser has launched a GoFundMe and said he ‘had a great time and made plenty of friends’
Ronnie Lee Peale Jr. has been described by his fiancé Jennilyn Blosser as the ‘life of the party’
They later added that the search by air would continue sunset, while boats would continue to scour the waters ‘throughout the night’.
‘Crews will continue the search for the 35 year-old man with air assets until sunset and water assets throughout the night,’ they said.
‘The total area searched by Coast Guard crews is 4,044 square miles and 19 hours of resource search hours.’
Passengers on board the ship told WTKR that they heard cruise ship staff asking for Peale over the intercom.
‘There was a security team storming each deck, each floor, concerned. But eventually, they let everybody know that he wasn’t found,’ Leevon Porter told the outlet.
Another passenger said the ship’s staff didn’t alert them about the man going overboard, and they later learned about the incident through a Facebook comment posted by Blosser.
‘There was a Facebook page for the cruise and she put it on there.’
Blosser said she is ‘devastated’ as rescue crews continue to search for her fiancé
The Carnival Magic cruise ship has now docked in Norfolk, Virginia
The coast guard told AP that the man’s companion had reported him missing late Monday afternoon, and security footage on the ship showed he had ‘leaned over the railing of his stateroom balcony and dropped into the water’ at around 4am.
Carnival said the Coast Guard released the ship from search efforts and told the captain to head back to port in Norfolk, Virginia.
The operator said: ‘Carnival Magic reported a man overboard to the U.S. Coast Guard.
‘He was reported missing by his companion late Monday afternoon and an initial review of closed circuit security footage confirms that he leaned over the railing of his stateroom balcony and dropped into the water at approximately 4:10 a.m. Monday.
‘The U.S. Coast Guard has released the ship from any search and rescue efforts and advised the ship’s captain to continue on its way to Norfolk where it arrived as planned on Tuesday.
‘The Carnival Care Team is providing support to the guest’s companion and traveling party who are on board.’
The ship can hold nearly 4,000 guests and is about 1,000 feet long.