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Tourism & Cruises

Man with autism who went overboard may have thought he was going swimming, family says


A man with autism who went overboard on a Carnival cruise ship Sunday evening has been identified by his family as 22-year-old Luke Renner of Johns Creek, Georgia.

Renner was traveling in a group of nine from Wishes4Me foundation on a five-night Carnival Fantasy cruise from Mobile, Alabama, when his travel companions reported him missing. The group was traveling with three chaperones.

Initially, Carnival said the crew could not find footage of Renner on the ship’s security camera tape. Mexican authorities searched the 2,675-passenger ship for Renner on Monday while it was at port; the ship then continued on with its regularly scheduled itinerary.

Carnival confirmed Wednesday that Renner climbed over the deck rail and jumped off the ship. His family said in a statement that they believe he may have mistakenly believed he was going swimming. They now presume he is dead but do not blame the group that organized the sailing, they said via a statement.

“He loved the Wishes4Me special needs community where he lived, and we were delighted when they planned this special event,” the Renner family said in a statement. “He loved cruises. Although we are devastated by his death, we are thankful he was there with people we loved and trusted, when he died. We are confident Wishes4Me watched over him with the utmost care and we do not hold them in any way responsible.”

Renner is the fourth person to go missing on a cruise ship in less than a month. On Friday, 26-year-old Thomas McElhany went overboard from the Carnival Victory and was never found. On Dec. 8, a 69-year-old woman from Holland went overboard the MSC Preziosa; the Coast Guard did not find her. On Nov. 22, a 27-year-old crew member on Royal Caribbean’s Adventure of the Seas disappeared from the ship and was never found. In all three cases, the disappearances went undiscovered for several hours, until the ships reached port.

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