Tourism & Cruises

Report: Man who plunged to death on cruise ship wanted to see Miami sunrise

Kendall Wernet
Kendall Wernet Facebook

Police identified the man who fell to his death from a cruise ship mast earlier this week and are continuing the investigation into his death, which appears so far to be accidental.

Miami-Dade police named Kendall Wernet, 20, from South Carolina, as the man who climbed the forward mast of the Carnival Ecstasy at PortMiami and fell about 20 feet onto the deck. No foul play is suspected, according to police.

“Everything points to it being an accident,” said Miami-Dade police Detective Alvaro Zabaleta.

The mast area is restricted and has signs warning passengers not to enter, said Carnival spokeswoman Jennifer de la Cruz.

Wernet, a Clemson University student, was on the cruise, along with 130 of his colleagues, as a reward for being among the top achievers of the painting company he worked for, Steve Acorn, the owner of the company called Student Painters, told WYFF.

Acorn told the news station that Wernet, who he has known for three years, was not drinking at the time of the fall. According to Acorn, Wernet and four others wanted to climb the mast, after having seen others up there the night before, to see the sunrise over Miami. But while everyone was lying down on the platform atop the mast, Wernet was standing or sitting up when a radar dish suddenly started to rotate, knocking him off.

Wernet suffered a severe head injury and lost consciousness after falling onto the running track on the deck, Acorn told WYFF.

“He was the kind of guy, that if you had a daughter, you’d want him to marry her,” Acorn told the news station.

According to his Facebook page, Wernet is from Winter Park, Florida.

The Ecstasy had just returned to Miami from a voyage to the Caribbean on Monday morning when Wernet plunged to his death. The ship left port again Monday afternoon on its next trip, which is a normal turnaround time for Carnival ships, de la Cruz said.

“We are deeply saddened to learn of the tragic death of Clemson student Kendall Wernet, a junior management major from Arden, N.C.,” said Shannon Finning, Clemson University Dean of Students, in a statement. “Our heartfelt condolences go out to his family and friends, and we stand ready to help them through this difficult time.”