Amber Malkuch, 45 – Suicide Overboard, Zaandam Passenger, August 3, 2009, Time of Death 10:00.
Amber Malkuch, (pronounced Malco) 45, from Seattle, Washington, was aboard the Holland America Line (HAL) Zaandam when she was reporting missing from her vessel while it was at sea in Alaskan waters.
The United States Coast Guard (USCG) said that Malkuch ordered room service around midnight, after the ship left Juneau, Alaska. It was the last time she was seen alive.
At the time of Malkuch’s disappearance, the cruise ship was between Douglas Island and Glacier Bay National Park.
At around 1000 hours, her cabin mate reported her missing.
The USCG launched a helicopter from Sitka, diverted two patrol boats, and launched two rescue boats from Juneau to search for her. The Civil Air Patrol is assisting in the search with two aircraft, and Glacier Bay National Park Service is conducting a shoreline search with multiple vessels.
The water temperature at the time of disappearance was about 57°. Expected survival rate at that temperature is six hours or less, if she went overboard alive.
Zaandam embarked on a seven-day voyage on Friday, July 31, at the Port Of Seattle, Washington. The ship had left Juneau around 2230 hours and is due back in Seattle on Friday August 7.
According to the U.S. Coast Guard, a body was located by TEMSCO Helicopters on the west side of Douglas Island around 1630 hours on August 3. Douglas Island is an island in the U.S. state of Alaska, just west of Juneau and east of Admiralty Island.
When the ship docks in Sitka on Tuesday, August 4, Alaska State Trooper are planning to begin an investigation aboard the ship. If this body of Malkuch, it is one of the few times in recent years a body has been recovered so quickly and it may yield clues as to the final moments before her death.
Holland America Line’s Sally Andrews is quoted as saying, “It appears to be a suicide.”
The coast guard continued the search after the body was found, because it had not been identified as Malkuch. Sgt. Matthew Dobson of the Alaska State Troopers says that they are acting under the assumption it was an accident.