Pacific Dawn tragedy: Woman overboard
THE Brisbane woman who fell overboard from the Pacific Dawn and disappeared in a tragedy at sea has been identified as Natasha Schofield, 47, but police say it “wasn’t an accident”.
The cruiseliner docked in Brisbane this morning as police waited to board the ship and investigate after Ms Schofield fell from an upper level deck into the ocean around 150 nautical miles west of New Caledonia on Thursday afternoon. Queensland Police will take statements from crew and passengers.
A search for Ms Schofield was called off on Friday morning and shell-shocked passengers were returned to Brisbane early on Sunday. Her body has not been found.
Ms Schofield was travelling with her husband and three children — aged from 12 to 16.
Queensland Police Inspector Rob Graham said Ms Schofield’s death was intentional.
“This wasn’t an accident,” he said.
“Let’s be open and honest about mental health.
“It’s a tragic end to what should’ve been a lifetime holiday experience for a loving family.
“Her husband was standing right next to her when she went over.”
Earlier reports she had been sick or fell due to a freak wave were incorrect, according to police.
“The missing person did make intentional actions and deliberately propelled herself overboard the ship,” Insp Graham said.
The entire incident was captured on security cameras. Insp Graham told reporters he had viewed the footage.
“What I saw was a couple of loving people on the top deck of a cruise ship,” he said.
“I saw them leaning on the rails and I saw the intentional actions of the missing person take two steps back and then propel herself over the railing.
“Her husband tried in vain to grab her when she went over ... grabbing onto her legs ... she was too far gone and subsequently she fell.
“You’ve got three kids who are never going to see their mum again.”
After the woman fell her “distraught” husband immediately raised the alarm and the ship turned around as a search began. Insp Graham said there were no nearby ships to help in the search because of “the remoteness of the location”.
“The loving husband and three kids of the missing person are still on-board the cruise ship,” Insp Graham told reporters this morning.
The cruise operator, Carnival Australia, said it was co-operating fully with the police investigation.
“We will be able to give police CCTV footage providing an unobstructed view of what happened and portraying an obviously devoted and loving couple,” Carnival said in a statement.
“We extend our deepest condolences to the family and hope that they will find comfort in their grief.”
Counselling has been made available for passengers.
One traveller said passengers had been updated with developments from the outset.
“The captain and crew have been put in an unimaginable position yet have handled themselves professionally and with the respect to the victim and her family,” Teg An told AAP on Friday.
The first photos from inside the cruise ship during the frantic search for Ms Schofield emerged overnight. One photo showed cruise ship staff on the deck of the ship. Another shows people using torches to try and spot the woman.
The images came as an eyewitness, who asked not to be named, said she saw the tragic incident unfold. She said the woman walked over to a deck and began to vomit while leaning over a railing of the Pacific Dawn.
“(She was) vomiting outside, near the table tennis area” the guest on-board recalled, the Courier Mail reported.
“Leaning over, not far over, then she fell. When she went over he collapsed.”
The guest claimed that there was no freak wave that hit the ship before the victim lost her footing and fell overboard.
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Originally published as Cruise death ‘wasn’t an accident’