FORT MYERS, Fla. — Coast Guard crews suspended their search for a 50-year-old man reported missing from Tampa cruise ship Tuesday approximately 85 miles off of Fort Myers.
The search was suspended at approximately 9 p.m. on Wednesday. Crews searched more than 55 hours covering 3,059 square miles.
According to the U.S. Coast Guard, Brian Lamonds of Greensboro, North Carolina is missing.
Coast Guard Key West watchstanders received a call at approximately 10 a.m. Tuesday from the cruise ship, stating the man reportedly went overboard from the Carnival Paradise. The cruise ship departed from Tampa on Monday for a 6-day cruise through the western Caribbean.
“I have been in contact with members of Mr. Lamonds’ family throughout our search efforts and know this is a very difficult and painful time for them,” said Cmdr. David Aldous, search and rescue mission coordinator for the Coast Guard 7th District. “Suspending a search is one of the most difficult decisions we have to make as first responders, and it is never made lightly.”
The circumstances surrounding how Lamonds went overboard still remain unclear.
Following the incident, Carnival Paradise released the following statement:
"On Tuesday morning, a male guest went overboard as the ship was sailing from Tampa to Key West, Florida. The Coast Guard was notified and is currently conducting a search for the guest. We are cooperating fully with all authorities. Our Care Team is providing support and assistance to the guest’s family."
Coast Guard rescue crews were composed of a C-130 Hercules aircraft and an MH-60 Jayhawk helicopter from Air Station Clearwater, an HC-144 Ocean Sentry aircraft crew from Air Station Miami, and the crew of the Coast Guard Cutter Isaac Mayo, homeported in Key West.
"That's incredible, nobody can fall off the banister," said Margaret Craven. "We always have a balcony and they're too high to just fall off."
Margaret Craven and her family just returned from a four-day trip on the Carnival Paradise Monday.
They are thankful their trip went smoothly and say they are praying for the missing passenger's family.
"It would be frightening," said Craven. "I'm glad my children or grandchildren were not subjected to it."
Lamonds' father tells our sister station, Fox 4 in Fort Myers, he hasn't heard from his son since Sunday.