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Search suspended for student who went overboard on Carnival ship

A 21-year-old college student fell from the balcony of the Carnival Glory, shown in Miami in this file photo. The ship was sailing about five miles south of Abaco Island, Bahamas when the passenger fell.
A 21-year-old college student fell from the balcony of the Carnival Glory, shown in Miami in this file photo. The ship was sailing about five miles south of Abaco Island, Bahamas when the passenger fell. MIAMI HERALD STAFF

Despite a three-day search, authorities were not able to find a college student who plunged into the sea from a cruise ship balcony Sunday morning.

The U.S. Coast Guard suspended the search for Virginia resident Cameron Smook, 21, on Tuesday night. The Virginia Tech senior was identified by the agency and the university on Wednesday.

According to a statement from Smook’s family that was released by Virginia Tech, he and several friends boarded the Carnival Glory in Miami on Saturday for a seven-night Caribbean cruise. The statement said family members got a call from officials at Doral-based Carnival Cruise Line Sunday morning saying that Smook had “accidentally fallen overboard” and was missing at sea.

A spokesman for Carnival said Smook was reported missing Sunday morning. After reviewing camera footage, personnel on the ship confirmed that he had gone overboard several hours earlier and notified the Coast Guard. Smook fell when the ship was about five miles south of Abaco Island in the Bahamas, the Coast Guard said.

The ship, which was heading to Half Moon Cay in the Bahamas, turned around to help search for Smook; another ship in the fleet, Carnival Ecstasy, also joined the effort. A Coast Guard helicopter, cutter and airplane as well as the Royal Bahamian Defense Force all took part in the search that stretched from Sunday until late Tuesday. The efforts covered more than 3,600 square nautical miles, according to the Coast Guard.

“Unfortunately, despite our best efforts, we were unable to locate Cameron,” Capt. Todd Coggeshall, chief of response management for the Coast Guard 7th District, said in a statement.

The ship, which was carrying about 3,500 passengers, skipped its port call at Half Moon Cay but has since returned to its scheduled itinerary.

“The company's CareTeam is providing support to the guest's traveling companions and family,” a Carnival statement said. “We extend our heartfelt sympathy and concern for the family and loved ones of our missing guest.”

Smook’s family thanked the Coast Guard and asked for privacy in its statement.

Smook was slated to graduate this spring with a degree in mining engineering, family members said. They continued: “He thoroughly enjoyed his experiences at Virginia Tech, had just accepted an employment offer, and was looking forward to a very bright future.”

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