A 6-year-old boy aboard a Carnival cruise drowned in the one of the ship’s pools Sunday, according to Carnival Cruise Lines. Qwentyn Hunter’s death weighs heavily on parents in his neighborhood in Winter Garden, Florida, NBC 6’s Gilma Avalos reports.
A 6-year-old boy aboard a Carnival cruise drowned in the one of the ship’s pools Sunday, according to Carnival Cruise Lines.
The boy, identified as Qwentyn Hunter, was on a four-day Caribbean cruise on the Carnival Victory, Carnival said in a statement. He was in the pool area with other members of his family, the statement said.
"Carnival extends its heartfelt sympathy to the family during this very difficult time. The company’s CareTeam is providing assistance and support," the statement said.
The ship arrived in Miami Monday and NBC 6 video showed the pool closed with crime scene tape and officials taking pictures of the scene.
Miami-Dade Police said Hunter was in the pool with his 10-year-old brother when the incident happened around 4:45 p.m. as the ship was out at sea.
The boy was submerged under water and was pulled out and given CPR but was pronounced dead, police said.
"I was sitting at the pool and we heard the DJ say 'get the, there's a child in the pool,' and then a guy jumped in and picked him up and then they were doing chest compressions and stuff on him," passenger Debi Ciavarella said. "It was all so devastating."
Police said the incident appears to be accidental and foul play was not suspected.
The family is from Winter Garden in central Florida, police said.
Photo: Qwentyn Hunter. Credit: Ariza Talent and Modeling.
Jeff Callendar, president of the Ariza Talent and Modeling Agency, said Hunter had been with his company for six months.
"He was an upcoming actor/model," Callendar said.
Callendar described the boy as very handsome, sweet, full of life and very precocious. He would give a high-five or a hug to people.
"I am still in shock," he said.
Meanwhile, a spokeswoman for Carnival Cruise Lines said they do not have lifeguards on duty at their pools.
"We do not have lifeguards on duty at our pools. As with many land-based hotels and resorts with swimming pools, cruise ships provide conspicuous signage to alert passengers that a lifeguard is not on duty," Carnival spokeswoman Joyce Oliva said in an email statement.
She said parental supervision is required for children under 13.
"In this case, there was a parent present at the time of the incident. The shipboard medical team was summoned via an emergency call and arrived on the scene promptly," she said.
Oliva added: "To the best of our knowledge it is the first time a child has drowned aboard one of our ships."
She also said each shipt in the fleet has one doctor and three nurses, except for the seven of the largest vessels, which have two doctors and four nurses.
David Peikin, the Cruise Lines International Association spokesman, said there is no industry policy requiring lifeguards on cruise ship pools.
"There is no industry policy or regulation requiring lifeguards but cruise ships do provide conspicuous signage to alert passengers that a lifeguard is not on duty, which is the same practice as many land-based hotels and resorts with swimming pools," he said in an email statement. "In the event of an incident, oceangoing cruise ships have experienced physicians and nurses that are able to provide emergency medical treatment and care for passengers as needed."
The body of a 41-year-old man was found last month in a hot tub aboard the same ship where Hunter died, and he also apparently drowned. Michael Moses Ward had been a survivor of the 1985 bombing of the militant group MOVE in Philadelphia.
On a Disney cruise last year, a small boy nearly drowned. Disney has added a lifeguard to the family pool on the Disney Dream and next month the rest of the ships wil have lifeguards during all pool operating hours.
There is a great deal of debate on whether cruise lines should have lifeguards, according to Jim Walker, a Miami maritime attorney and author of a blog called www.cruiselaw.com.
"This involves the debate between personal responsibility and corporate responsibility," he wrote in an email to The Associated Press. "Yes, parents should have responsibility for watching their children but at the same time cruise corporations have a duty to watch over the parents and children and provide a reasonably safe place for them to have a family vacation."
Carol Finkelhoffe, chairwoman of the Cruise Line & Passenger Ship Committee of the Maritime Law Association of the U.S., said not every drowning aboard a cruise ship is reported but "they are common enough that they happen."
Finkelhoffe said cruise lines owe it to their passengers to provide lifeguards.
"Someone should be watching the pool. It's foreseeable that these types of accidents can happen...and they should do something to prevent them," she said.