(NEW YORK) — A 35-year-old man is missing after falling from a cruise ship off the coast of Florida, authorities said.
The U.S. Coast Guard said it is searching for a passenger who went overboard from the Carnival Magic cruise ship traveling 186 miles east of Jacksonville on Monday.
The man’s companion reported him missing 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,” Carnival Cruise Line said in a statement to ABC News.
The man — identified by his family as Ronnie Peale Jr. from New Hope, Virginia — was on his first cruise, his mother told Richmond ABC affiliate WRIC.
His mother, Linda Peale, told WRIC that her son was on a cruise with his partner, Jennilyn Blosser, and her family for Blosser’s birthday.
He would call at least three times a day to check on his dogs, and when he didn’t call Monday morning and afternoon, Linda Peale knew something was wrong. She said she called Blosser to check in and learned they couldn’t find him.
“I just woke up 11:30 in the morning [on Monday] and he wasn’t there,” Blosser told WRIC. “So I spent my whole day trying to find him.”
Twelve hours had passed between when he went over his balcony railing and they found the security footage, Linda Peale said. Blosser said the footage showed him leaning over and that it looks like he accidentally fell.
“It’s not like he was like jumping, like you know, it wasn’t like that at all,” Blosser told the station.
After the Coast Guard released the ship from search and rescue efforts, the 1,004-foot Carnival Magic continued its return trip to Norfolk, Virginia, where it was scheduled to arrive as planned on Tuesday.
The Coast Guard said it is using both air and water assets to conduct the search for the passenger. As of Wednesday afternoon, the Coast Guard said its crews have searched 5,000 square miles over more than 40 hours as the search for Peale continues.
Linda Peale described her son as “full of life” and someone who loves old cars, gardening and cooking.
“We’re still praying that he’s somewhere out there somewhere,” she told WRIC.
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