Australian authorities determined that a woman who fell overboard the Pacific Dawn luxury liner 150 nautical miles due west of New Caledonia Thursday indeed intended to fall to her death.
According to the New York Post, Natasha Schofield, 47, disappeared at sea after jumping from a top-level deck aboard the family leisure cruise ship run by Carnival Australia.
The Courier Mail reports that Schofield, who lived in Brisbane, was on holiday with her husband and two teenaged children at the time.
The ship docked in Brisbane early Saturday so that Queensland police could begin investigating the incident. Police Rob Graham reviewed security camera footage of the entire event and told reporters Monday that “the missing person did make intentional actions and deliberately propelled herself overboard the ship.”
“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,” Graham said, according to the Courier Mail. “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.”
Her partner instantly rang an alarm and the ship reversed course to search for Schofield, but to no avail.
“We will be able to give police CCTV footage providing an unobstructed view of what happened and portraying an obviously devoted and loving couple,” wrote Carnival in a public statement about the apparent suicide.
“We extend our deepest condolences to the family and hope that they will find comfort in their grief.”
Passengers told the Courier Mail that the company kept passengers aware of developments from the outset. The luxury liner spent several hours circling the area immediately after Schofield went overboard, and announced to the entire ship that the search had been called off around 7:30am Friday.
“It is with a very heavy heart that I need to let you know that we have been unable to locate our guest,” the Captain said. “As a result we have now made the extremely difficult decision to continue our journey towards Brisbane.”
The search effort caused the ship to return to Brisbane, its origin point just a week prior, a day later than originally planned.
“The difficult decision to suspend the search was made only after expert advice that survival after this length of time in difficult sea conditions and after a full night at sea was not considered possible,” said a Carnival spokesman.
“This wasn’t an accident,” Graham emphasized. “Let’s be open and honest about mental health.”
[Feature image: Natasha Schofield; Facebook/The Sun video screenshot]