19-year-old Texas man went overboard from a Royal Caribbean cruise ship, has yet to be found
(CNN) — A 19-year-old passenger on a cruise ship went overboard in the Caribbean on Tuesday and a search for him is ongoing, according to cruise line Royal Caribbean and the passenger’s family.
But one relative of missing Texas resident Sigmund Ropich says the family is desperate for answers and have not heard much from Cuban Border Guard officials, who are leading the search.
“We just want our brother home. They’re taking too long and barely telling us anything,” his sister Savannah Ropich told CNN, confirming he was a passenger on the voyage.
The Royal Caribbean ship Wonder of the Seas departed on August 27 from Port Canaveral, Florida, setting out for a seven-day voyage in the western Caribbean, according to an itinerary.
It’s unclear how the 19-year-old went overboard or exactly how long he was in the water before the search for him began. The ship’s onboard crew “immediately launched a search and rescue operation and is working closely with local authorities,” Royal Caribbean said in a statement Wednesday.
Rhode Island resident Jenna Izzo, who was on the cruise ship, used a voice recording app to capture the moment the captain told passengers about the search.
“We actually have report of a man overboard. We have slowed the ship down,” the ship’s captain told passengers over the intercom, according to the voice note Izzo shared with CNN.
“We have turned around and we are heading back to the position that we had at that time,” the recording continued. “We will start the search and rescue operations with our rescue boat, with our spotlight, with our crew out and about to look and hear for anything.”
Izzo also captured nighttime video that shows a rescue crew using the ship’s spotlight to search the waters. The cruise ship searched for three hours before continuing onto Grand Cayman, according to Izzo.
The Cuban Border Guard is now leading the search for Ropich, according to Ropich’s sister and a US Coast Guard spokesperson.
Savannah Ropich said on Friday the US Consulate contacted the family and said the Cuban Border Guard is “going to stop the ocean search and are only doing a coastal and land search.”
CNN has reached out to Cuban Border Guard officials for information but has not yet heard back.
The ship – which has a guest capacity of 5,606 – is scheduled to return to Port Canaveral on September 3, according to the company.