Michael Hepner, 19 – Suicide Overboard, Carnival Sensation Passenger, January 14, 2001, Time of Death 3:00.
On January 14, 2001, Michael Hepner, 19, from Cedar Rapids, Iowa, fell from Carnival Cruise Line’s, Sensation in Hillsborough Bay, off Tampa, Florida in the wee hours of the morning.
Michael Hepner died from the impact with the water, the Hillsborough County Medical Examiner’s Office said.
It was reported that Hepner was fighting with his girlfriend, Rebecca Brown of Lowell, Indiana about 0300 hours when they walked out of the disco onto a promenade about 50 feet above the water, the United States Coast Guard said. He climbed over the railing and lost his grip.
Brown said that Hepner had been drinking heavily during the day, but not immediately before the incident.
Miss Brown had tried to talk Hepner off the railing, and left to find some crew members to help. When she returned with two crew member, reports say, Hepner was only holding on by his fingertips. Before the crew could reach him, he fell to his death.
The Coast Guard initially called the incident a drowning, pending the results of the autopsy.
Associate Medical Examiner Julia Martin said Hepner was left unconscious after suffering a head and neck injury.
After rescuing him from the bay near MacDill Air Force Base, the Coast Guard transported him to Tampa General Hospital, where he died two hours later.