(May 26) -- The Coast Guard continues to search for an 18-year-old cruise passenger who went overboard on Sunday night in the Gulf of Mexico.
According to a statement from Carnival Cruise Lines, witnesses reportedly saw the man go overboard from Carnival Fantasy at about 9:45 p.m. Sunday evening, while the vessel was 165 miles from Key West. WWLT-TV, a Louisiana-based CBS affiliate, has identified the teenager as Bruce O'Krepki. O'Krepki had just graduated from St. Thomas Aquinas High School in Hammond, Louisiana, and was on the cruise with a number of recent graduates.
The Carnival statement noted that Carnival Fantasy participated in search and rescue operations with the Coast Guard until the ship was released at 2:50 a.m. Monday morning. The ship then resumed sailing to Key West, where it arrived at approximately 1 p.m. The Times-Picayune is reporting that the Coast Guard search, which is being conducted via helicopters, a C-130 Hercules and the Coast Guard Cutter Nantucket, will continue through today.
Carnival Fantasy is sailing a seven-night cruise roundtrip from New Orleans with stops in Key West and Nassau. The ship is scheduled to return to New Orleans on Saturday, May 30.
--by Dan Askin, Associate Editor