Daniel Dipiero, 21 – Suicidal Behavior, Mariner Of The Seas Passenger, May 15, 2006, Time of Death 2:00.
Daniel Dipero ,21, from Canfield, Ohio had been traveling in a party of seven: three male friends of his age in one cabin and the mother of one of the men and two of her friends in another cabin on a seven day cruise aboard Royal Caribbean Cruise Line’s Mariner Of The Seas.
The Mariner Of The Seas had 3,351 passengers and 1,223 crew members onboard at the time of the incident. The ship had departed from Port Canaveral, and was due back in Port Canaveral on Sunday May 21, 2006, at 6:30 a.m.
Daniel was reported missing on Monday May 15, 2006 at 11:00am by his friends, 9 hours after he was last seen. Then, ship officials did not notify the coast guard until 8 hours after the ship was notified by his friends that he was missing. They notified the Coast Guard by email, around 19:00 hours (7pm) local time on Monday. By this time, Daniel hadn’t been seen for 17 hours.
Royal Caribbean said they waited to alert the Coast Guard because it first wanted to make sure the missing passenger was not on board the 3100 passenger ship, or on the company’s private island where the ship docked Monday.
Though the cruse line did not say if they checked to see if he had swiped his card to get off at the island, and why they thought he might be on the island if he had not swiped his card.
The ship was en route from Port Canaveral, Florida, to Coco Cay, Bahamas, when the incident occurred.
The Coast Guard was unable to begin a search until 0900 hours on Tuesday, due to a thunderstorm in the area, and by the time they were notified, nightfall was approaching on Monday night, making a search by air impossible. Due to continued rough seas, a search by ship was not possible. A C-130 airplane took off Tuesday to look for Daniel, after nearly 31 hours had already passed. Chances for a successful recovery decreases past 36 to 40 hours. However there are numerous small islands, reefs and caves where someone could take refuge.
The delay in reporting, which made an immediate search impossible, by sea or by air due to weather and darkness, resulted in Daniel being in the water longer than any other cruise passenger had been in the water, and been successfully rescued, before the search even began.
U.S. and Bahamian authorities conducted an air and sea search Tuesday May 16, 2006, along the 120-mile stretch the ship sailed. Late Tuesday afternoon, the 87-foot Coast Guard cutter Dolphin scoured the west end of Grand Bahama halfway to Freeport and a Hercules C-130 searched a 230-square mile area from the air. In addition, a Falcon jet was dispatched to search a 48-square-mile area of the 77-degree waters. The U.S. Coast Guard said it would also drop data buoys with Global Positioning System capability to determine possible drift that might have moved Daniel off the ship’s course.
Cruise line officials said, “Numerous onboard announcements were made, searches of the ship were conducted, and a sweep was conducted on Coco Cay, unfortunately, without success”.
The other passengers traveling with Daniel, said they last saw him on Sunday night around midnight, the night before, and at that time he said he was going to bed. When other passengers in his party arrived back at their cabin he wasn’t there, nor did he return to the cabin that night. His bed remained unslept in.
Royal Caribbean said it was cooperating fully with authorities and was providing counseling to the man’s family. The cruise line flew his parents and two younger sisters to meet the ship in the Virgin Islands, said DiPiero’s aunt Nancy Dixon. Family members were expected to meet with cruise ship officials and the FBI to discuss the disappearance.
Investigators from the FBI and the Coast Guard interviewed DiPiero’s companions, other travelers and crew members May 17, 2006 aboard the ship, for four hours, the company said.
The company further stated, in a security video, he is alone for nearly two hours, from midnight to 2:15am, lying in a chair most of the time, according to the cruise line. Then he is seen leaning overboard to vomit, then falling overboard from a rail near the front starboard side of the ship at 2:16am, and he was alone at that time. This is unconfirmed by the Tampa office of the FBI, who stated the investigation was continuing.
Through the interviews, they found that DiPiero and his friends concealed liquor in mouthwash bottles and brought a bottle of rum in their luggage. The friends videotaped themselves drinking the alcohol Sunday afternoon, and DiPiero continued drinking heavily until midnight, investigators said.
The cruise line omitted the fact that Daniel and his friends drank little of the liquor they had brought onboard the ship, and that Daniel had in fact been served alcohol at one of the cruise ship bars. Daniel was served alcohol to a point where the bartender “cut him off.”
Despite being cut off by a bartender in one of the cruise ship bars because of his obvious intoxication, Daniel was then able to go to another bar in the cruise ship and was served more liquor by the cruise ship. Despite being observed intoxicated to the point where the bartender felt he should not be served any further liquor, no further steps or precautionary measures were taken by the cruise line to assure the safety of Daniel. He was not escorted to his cabin. He was permitted to receive further alcohol in a different bar aboard the cruise ship, though clearly intoxicated to another bartender.
The U.S. Coast Guard called off the search at 2:45pm on May 17, 2006 having searched 900 square miles of sea. He remains missing.
The cost of the U. S. Coast Guard search:
- C-130 Hercules: $11,266 an hour for maintenance and fuel
- Falcon jet search and rescue plane: $8,849 an hour
- U.S. Coast Guard Cutter: $1,359 an hour.