DAYTONA BEACH, Fla. - Authorities have identified a 31-year-old Army sergeant who is believed to have jumped from the Carnival Fascination cruise ship early Tuesday morning about 25 miles off new Smyrna Beach.
The U.S. Coast Guard continues to search for Sgt. Ronald Kemp, who was assigned to Fort Stewart-Hunter Army Airfield in Fort Stewart, Ga.
According to a statement issued by Carnival, Kemp was seen jumping from the 10th floor of the cruise ship into the ocean just after 2 a.m. Tuesday by a security guard.
“We've seen, received different reports and I don't want to speculate as to whether he fell or jumped,” said Lt. Cmdr. Robert Taylor of the Coast Guard.
Several life rings were thrown into the water, and the ship maneuvered into position to search for Kemp, according to the Carnival statement.
Crewmembers aboard the ship reported the incident to watchstanders in the Coast Guard Sector Jacksonville command center at 2:09 a.m. on Tuesday.
“Our crews that are out there searching, they've planned for this and they train for this every day,” Taylor said.
Planes, helicopters and boats continue to search a 180-square-mile area for the victim. The Coast Guard is expanding the grid as the search continues.
“The more time that goes on, the larger the search area gets,” said Taylor. “That's why we've devoted multiple aircraft and Coast Guard boats to assist in the search effort."
The Carnival Fascination left the cruise terminal in Jacksonville on Monday evening en route to Key West.
According to Carnival, the ship was released from the search process Tuesday morning.
The Fascination has canceled its planned Key West stop and is proceeding to the Bahamas.
The Coast Guard continues to investigate the incident.