A Brisbane woman presumed dead after falling into the water from a P&O cruise ship this week deliberately jumped overboard.
Police confirmed on Sunday morning that 47-year-old Natasha Schofield was on the top deck of the Pacific Dawn with husband when she threw herself into the water below. Her husband desperately tried to stop her from jumping, but was unable to hold her back.
Security footage shows the couple was leaning on the railing on the top deck on Thursday evening before the woman took two steps back and propelled herself over the ship’s edge.
A Queensland police spokesperson said Schofield’s husband was understandably distraught.
“You’ve got a loving husband that was there … you’ve got three kids who are never going to see their mum again,” he said.
The couple’s children were not present when Schofield jumped. Police said the couple appeared relaxed and “in love” before the incident took place.
Carnival spokesperson David Jones told Starts at 60 the family had been supported on board by senior crew members since the incident and that P&O were helping police with their investigation.
The revelation comes after the ship’s captain called off the search for the woman on Friday on the advice of marine rescue authorities in Australia and New Caledonia. Carnival Australia spokesman David Jones told the Courier Mail the rough conditions at sea meant it was unlikely the woman would have survived.
“The difficult decision to suspend the search was made only after expert advice that survival after this length of time in difficult sea conditions and after a full night at sea was not considered possible,” he said.
The ship arrived back in Brisbane in the early hours of Sunday morning, a day later than originally planned. Police are expected to board the vessel and join the investigation into the incident.
The woman was first reported missing on Thursday night, when witnesses on the vessel said she had gone outside to be sick, but was thrown into the sea off the coast of New Caledonia when a huge wave hit the ship.
Life-preservers were thrown in to the water, but came up empty. Worried passengers documented the search on social media and revealed on Friday the captain had announced they were unable to locate the woman in the rough seas and the ship would be continuing its journey to Brisbane without her.
“It is with a very heavy heart that I need to let you know that we have been unable to locate our guest,” the captain of the Pacific Dawn told passengers on Friday morning, according to The Guardian. “We are still in the area of the incident, and the weather conditions with the swell three to four metres high, as you can see outside, the strong wind made our search extremely challenging.”
Starts at 60 has contacted P&O for comment.