Passenger Who Fell Into Below-Freezing Water Dies

April 23, 2011

(11:25 a.m. EDT) -- Janet Richardson -- the 73-year-old Ocean Countess passenger who fell into sub-freezing waters while being taken from the ship to a local hospital -- has died. The Daily Mail Online reports that she passed away today at the Cumberland infirmary in Carlisle, U.K., with her husband at her side.

As we reported earlier this week, Richardson was on a 13-night Northern Lights and Arctic Circle cruise in late March with Cruise & Maritime Voyages when she fell ill with internal bleeding. The captain determined that she needed to seek medical attention in port, but during the transfer from the cruise ship to a rescue boat to take her to shore, her rescuers dropped her stretcher into -3 degree C (27 degree F) water.

"Mrs. Richardson was treated in Norway and underwent brain and heart scans before being airlifted back to the UK last Wednesday," reports the Daily Mail. "She had a tracheotomy in her throat and could not speak and was also suspected of having kidney problems."

A cruise line representative told Cruise Critic earlier this week that an investigation is underway into how the accident occurred. Mr. Richardson told the Daily Mail that the rescue team had originally intended to use a helicopter for the transfer, and that the ship also could have returned to port. Both options were turned down for a sea rescue, he said.

In a cruise line statement issued today, Chris Coates, marketing director, said, "The directors and staff of Cruise and Maritime Voyages are all deeply shocked by the news received today that Mrs. Janet Richardson has passed away. All our thoughts and prayers are with the Richardson Family at this sad time."

We'll keep you posted.

--by Erica Silverstein, Features Editor