USCG Finally Calls Off Search for Missing Cruise Passenger

What was supposed to be a fun and restful vacation turned into a nightmare on November 29, 2012 for Jason Gregory Rappe, 42, from Olympia, Washington. He and his wife, "Tine", were aboard the Holland America Line (HAL) cruise ship, Eurodam, when he went missing. The Eurodam was on a course from St. Thomas in the U.S. Virgin Islands to the Bahamas on a seven day cruise, when the report of his disappearance was made by his wife.

A preliminary search of the cruise ship failed to turn up the missing passenger. Apparently, a baseball cap of Rappe's was discovered on the deck and it was concluded that he fell overboard.

The United States Coast Guard (USCG) was notified of the possibility of a passenger overboard at 5:00 a.m. on Thursday morning. Subsequently, a MH-65 Dolphin helicopter and two ships were dispatched to the scene to search for the survivor or his body. The search began on Friday, November 30, 2012 and continued on Saturday, December 1, 2012 in an area roughly 85 miles northwest of Puerto Rico.

The Eurodam altered its itinerary briefly to join in the search for Rappe but left the search and continued on to its Fort Lauderdale destination on Saturday, according to a Holland America Line spokesperson.

Ricardo Castrodad, a spokesman for the USCG, said that they had called off the search on Saturday, December 1, 2012.

The Holland America Line, along with the other players in the cruise industry, market their cruises as being luxurious, carefree, restful getaways where passengers are pampered. The advertising creates a beautiful and inviting atmosphere of "your wish is our command."

What they don't tell potential passengers is that disappearances at sea, serious injuries, sexual assaults, collisions, vessels sinking and onboard fires are quite common. Whatever caused the disappearance of Jason Gregory Rappe is yet to be determined but there are several possible explanations. One real possibility is intoxication and whether his intoxication was the result of negligence on the part of HAL. Cruise lines have been known to over serve its passengers alcoholic beverages to the state of inebriation causing them to be unable to care for themselves or their safety. It is widely known that passengers are often served alcoholic beverages from the time they board. Drink packages can often lead to passengers passing out, unruly behavior, nudity and sexual assault.

Whatever caused the disappearance of this passenger it seems likely that HAL will place the blame on passenger Rappe, just as some cruise lines have done in past incidents. Keep in mind that cruise lines are keen of evidence and will try their best to conceal anything in their control that may suggest their own wrongdoing.

If you or someone you know have suffered an injury, sexual assault or lost a loved one on a cruise, you should talk to an attorney experienced in handling cruise ship claims. This is important because you are generally required to provide the cruise ship company written notice of your injury within six months from the date of the injury and file suit within one year of the injury or death.

John Merriam and Gordon Webb have nearly 50 years of maritime law experience and 20 years of experience representing cruise line passengers for all sorts of injuries, including sexual assault and death claims.

Contact us through our website or call our toll free number at 877.800.1007 for a no obligation consultation. You will never owe us a fee unless we make a recovery for you.

Other Resources:
Search continues for Olympia man missing in Caribbean, The Olympian, November 30, 2012

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