Man falls from Carnival cruise ship, drowns
January 15, 2001
Web posted at: 9:46 AM EST (1446 GMT)
TAMPA, Florida (AP) -- A teen-ager who was arguing with his girlfriend climbed over the railing of a cruise ship off the coast of Florida, lost his grip and drowned.
Michael Hepner, 19, of Lowell, Indiana, was found floating unconscious two miles offshore early Sunday morning by a Coast Guard rescue helicopter. He was pronounced dead at a Tampa hospital.
Carnival Cruise Line's Sensation was returning to port after a seven-day western Caribbean cruise when the accident happened, Tampa police spokesman Joe Durkin said.
Hepner, who had been drinking, climbed over the rail, then found he couldn't climb back, police said.
How far the teen fell was not immediately known. Authorities said only that Hepner plunged from the ship's fourth-highest level.
An autopsy was scheduled Monday.