Sunday 4 December 2016

Man who fell to death from cruise not suicidal, says dad

Elaine Keogh

Published 13/02/2012 | 05:00

THE family of a man who went overboard from a luxury liner in the Caribbean over a week ago are desperately trying to piece together his final hours.

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And while they insist "he was not a suicide risk", a spokeswoman for Royal Caribbean Cruises Limited said it had CCTV footage that "clearly" showed "that the guest went overboard intentionally".

Kenneth Gemmell's parents say he was having the time of his life and had been planning the holiday for years.

The seven-day cruise left Fort Lauderdale in Florida on Sunday, January 29, and was heading for Cancun in Mexico before returning to Fort Lauderdale.

It was chartered by Atlantis Events which describes itself as "the largest company in the world dedicated to creating unique vacations for the gay and lesbian community".

Speaking from the family home near Bailieborough, in Co Cavan, his father James said: "Kenneth was not a suicide risk. He went out on a holiday and was very happy. We just don't understand what happened."

His body has not been found. Their concerns that something "untoward" may have happened were fuelled after being told that on the evening before his death Kenneth had "exchanged words" with a member of staff on board the vessel and this person had disembarked at the Mexican port of Cozumel and did not re-board.

This was denied by the company who said it was not "aware" of any altercation between the deceased and any staff member.

The spokeswoman said: "He was alone on the balcony in his stateroom on deck 11 when he stepped on top of the balcony table in order to jump over the balcony railing. The footage is consistent with an eyewitness report from another guest."

She also said that no one failed to return after the stop at Cozumel port.

In their efforts to piece together the final hours of their son, who lived in Dubai where he was a first class steward with Emirates Airlines, they have appealed for anyone who was a passenger on the cruise or who spoke with him to get in touch.

"This cruise was his present to himself for his 30th birthday," said James.

Kenneth, who rarely drank and did not get into fights, celebrated his birthday on the ship 'Allure of the Seas' on February 1.

His mum Colette said her son "was very good at his job and loyal to those he worked with and was a happy and outgoing person". His parents can be contacted via the email address Michael@ mhynes.com

Irish Independent

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