The friends and loved ones of a South African cruise passenger who died after falling overboard from a cruise ship in the Pacific have expressed their immense sadness, according to SA People.
Warwick Tollemache fell overboard from the Royal Caribbean cruise ship Quantum of the Seas last month during a voyage from Australia to Hawaii.
The cruise line and local search and rescue authorities attempted to find him but where unsuccessful. A U.S. Coast Guard spokesperson told CBS News a man was reported to have fallen overboard approximately 500 nautical miles south of Hawaii’s Big Island.
The Coast Guard responded and conducted five searches in the course of about six hours, but the man was not located. The search was reportedly suspended in collaboration with his family.
Tollemache was 35, and attended St David’s Marist Inanda in Sandton, South Africa, before moving to Queensland, Australia. He was described by those who knew him as a “beautiful and gentle soul”.
“The Tollemache family is heartbroken at the loss of our beloved Warwick, class of 2005,” Ormiston College Alumni posted in a message from his family. “He was a kind, beautiful, and gentle soul who was adored by everyone who knew him. He will be deeply missed.”
“He cherished his time at Ormiston College and especially his rugby. He loved his friends, his classmates, and his teachers and spoke about them all fondly even in recent history,” the statement continued.
“All of his teachers had an enormous impact, but in particular Mr Littleton fostered a love of English and writing in Warwick that continued throughout his life. We are so grateful for the influence his teachers, peers and the school had on his life. We kindly ask for privacy during this difficult time. Thank you for your understanding,” it added.
Quantum of the Seas departed Brisbane on April 12th and was nearing the end of the voyage when Tollemache fell overboard. Passengers aboard the ship told local media that rough weather during the night made it extremely difficult for the ship’s crew to conduct search operations.
One passenger told Sky News Australia that the search began immediately after Tollemache fell because two members of the crew saw it happen. It has been reported that Tollemache hit one of the ship’s lifeboats in the fall, and he may therefore have been rendered unconscious when he entered the water.
Royal Caribbean in a statement did not comment on any of these details, but extended its condolences to Tollemache’s family.
“While on its trans-pacific sailing, a guest onboard Quantum of the Seas went overboard. The ship’s crew immediately launched a search and rescue operation and worked closely with local authorities,” the statement said.
“Out of respect for the family, we will not share further details about this unfortunate event. Our thoughts and deepest sympathies are with his loved ones at this time,” it added.
Warwick’s partner, Jennifer Mullaly, told local media she was meant to go on the cruise with him, but couldn’t because of work, so his mother Mandy went with him instead.
On Facebook she expressed her devastation at his loss, writing that she would always be grateful for “the years of such a unique and fulfilling friendship with you“.