The search for a man who went overboard on a cruise ship heading from Louisiana to Jamaica has been suspended, the U.S. Coast Guard announced on Thursday.
Tyler Barnett, 28, was on a family vacation on the Carnival Glory cruise ship when he was reported missing just after midnight on Monday, the Coast Guard said. The search for the missing passenger began shortly after noon that day, following the ship’s path from Southwest Pass, Louisiana.
A Carnival Cruise spokesperson said Tuesday that the cruise’s security team on Tuesday evening found surveillance video of Barnett at 1:40 a.m. Monday, which they said showed him climbing onto a lifeboat and “jumping” from there.
But members of Barnett’s family think that he slipped by accident.
“From what my granddaughter could tell from the poor quality of the footage, it looked like he went to move and slipped off. I know Tyler wouldn’t deliberately jump,” Barnett’s grandmother Dirlean Tate Mason told NBC News on Thursday. She said her granddaughter Destiny Barnett reviewed the video of Barnett on the ship.
Tyler Barnett worked on the river barges in his hometown of Houma, Louisiana, Mason said. She said he has 3-year-old twin daughters waiting for him at home with Barnett’s father and stepmother.
Coast Guard crews searched over 5,600 square miles, an area larger than the size of Connecticut, using three different air crews, according to a Thursday press release. They also broadcast the man-overboard alert to mariners across the Gulf of Mexico.
“Our crews battled severe weather conditions for multiple days and made every effort to find Mr. Barnett,” Lt. Cmdr. Sean DiGeorge, Coast Guard District Eight search and rescue mission coordinator, said in the press release.
“Suspending an active search is never a decision we make lightly, and we offer our most sincere condolences to Mr. Barnett’s family and friends,” DiGeorge said.
Barnett was on the cruise with 13 of his family members when he went overboard. His sister Destiny Barnett said on Tuesday that she felt trapped on the cruise, unable to enjoy the vacation, but also unable to leave without knowing what happened to her brother.
Mason said Destiny Barnett has since left the ship, which docked in Montego Bay in Jamaica on Wednesday. It took her multiple tries to get the cruise line to show her the surveillance video, she told NBC News on Tuesday.
Mason said she can’t understand why it took the cruise line as long as it did to locate the correct surveillance video and notify the Coast Guard. It took more than 24-hours to locate the video of Barnett going overboard. Previously, the cruise line only found surveillance video of Barnett entering the cruise’s casino and his room on Sunday night.
A spokesperson for the cruise line said the delay occurred because the crew was only advised that Barnett could be wearing a different shirt on Tuesday. The security team was able to change the search profile of onboard video afterward, the spokesperson said.
“Our thoughts are with the family as they grieve during this very difficult time,” said Matt Lupoli, a spokesperson for the cruise line. “We are not going to get into a back-and-forth with certain family members through the media out of respect for them, but we stand by our statement.”
A spokesperson for the Coast Guard, Petty Officer 2nd Class Jose Hernandez, said that video of Barnett going overboard revealed on Tuesday meant they had to redirect search efforts to a different area approximately 30 miles southwest of the Southwest Pass.
When Barnett went overboard, the winds were at 35 mph or higher, with 8- to 12-foot waves, Hernandez said.
Mason said she isn’t ready to make memorial arrangements for Barnett because she does not want to believe the search is over.