Queensland Police say fatal fall from Pacific Dawn a deliberate act

Inspector Rob Graham speaking to the media at Brisbane’s Portside Wharf Inspector Rob Graham speaking to the media at Brisbane’s Portside Wharf PHOTO: AAP/John Gass

Queensland Police have said the death of a woman who fell overboard from P&O’s Pacific Dawn 150 nautical miles west of New Caledonia last Thursday was not an accident.

As reported here, the search was called off early Friday and the ship, which was on a seven-night cruise to the South Pacific, proceeded to return to Brisbane.

Speaking to media at Brisbane’s Portside Wharf where the ship docked Sunday morning, Inspector Rob Graham explained the circumstances behind the tragedy.

‘I can say that the missing person did not accidentally fall,’ Graham said.

‘I can say that the missing person did make intentional actions to propel herself overboard (and) I can say that a male person, her husband, was standing right next to her when she went over.

‘I can also say that her husband tried in vain to grab her as she went over, by grabbing onto her legs, but she was too far gone.’      

Graham said people should be ‘honest and open’ about mental health.

‘It is a tragic end to what should have been a lifetime holiday experience for a loving family,’ he said.

A spokesman for Carnival Australia said prior to Pacific Dawn’s arrival, the captain thanked disembarking passengers for their sensitivity and support for the woman’s husband and children.

The spokesman said they had been supported on board by senior crew members and CARE-trained staff had met the ship on its arrival.

‘We have done everything possible to respect and protect the privacy of the family,’ he said.  

He said P&O was assisting police with their inquiries for the Queensland State Coroner and had given them CCTV footage that provided an unobstructed view of what had happened.


Posted 16 April 2018

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Helen Hutcheon

Australasia correspondent