On January 20, 2018, Juwanna Brooks boarded the Carnival Triumph cruise ship, headed from New Orleans to Cozumel, Mexico. The next day, she was gone.
As the Times-Picayune reports, the 44-year-old woman went overboard in the Gulf of Mexico, somewhere near the coast, on Sunday night. In a statement, Carnival Cruise Line said search-and-rescue operations were underway and the cruise line was providing support and assistance to the victim’s family.
Mexico’s navy, Secretaría de Marina (SEMAR), was also deployed, covering regional search and rescue operations, according to Carnival spokesman Vance Gulliksen.
In an interview with KLFY, Brooks’s mother said it was her daughter’s first cruise, a Christmas gift from her husband. Marilyn Winfrey shared the video her daughter sent her shortly after boarding.
Winfrey said she stayed in touch with her daughter up until suppertime:
“I texted her up until they were at dinner and that was my last time hearing her.”
Winfrey revealed she was contacted by Carnival officials after her daughter reportedly fell overboard, explaining the family’s efforts to work with foreign officials since receiving the news:
“We’ve been trying to get in touch with the embassy in Mexico, but it’s a long process and we haven’t heard anything yet but they are still looking for her.”
Winfrey said “cruel” rumors circulating on social media suggest her daughter may have taken her own life, an accusation she refuses to believe.
As she told KLFY:
“I did hear rumors that she possibly jumped, but there’s no way, there’s no way. She’s only 5 foot 1. There’s a lot of rumors going around and we don’t know, it’s still under investigation by the FBI. We’re still waiting we haven’t heard anything yet.”
Whatever the search for Brooks yields, Winfrey said she just wants her daughter home:
“I just want to believe that they’re going to find something, I just want to be able to put her to rest.”
“I’m still believing that she’s going to come home one way or the other. I want her to come home. That’s mainly what I want right now, just to have some closure.”
As the Times-Picayune reports, this is the second accident to occur on a Carnival cruise ship in a matter of days. Two days before Brooks reportedly fell overboard, a woman fell from her 14th deck balcony of her stateroom aboard the Carnival Elation to the 11th floor and died.
According to the Florida-Caribbean Cruise Association, a record 24.2 million people cruised globally in 2016. The outlook for 2017 is expected to exceed that rate by more than 1 million people.
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