Overboard Incident

Daniel Dipiero

On May 15, 2006 our son/brother, Daniel DiPiero, boarded the cruise ship Royal Caribbean Mariner of the Seas for what was intended to be a vacation of a lifetime.

Daniel went onboard the ship with his friends. He was excited. Daniel and his friends had big plans to enjoy their vacation.

Daniel’s “vacation” turned into a nightmare. On May 15, 2006 at approximately 2:16 a.m., video surveillance cameras aboard the Mariner of the Seas captured Daniel falling over the railing onboard the vessel into the sea. At that time, our family became “the family of Daniel DiPiero”, the man who fell over the railing, while onboard the Mariner of the Seas. We instantly became the focus of the media.

Katie, Daniel’s sister, said, “this is not the way that Daniel was supposed to become famous”…

Obviously, many questions arised regarding what happened to Daniel, and what steps could have been undertaken to prevent the tragic death of Daniel.

All our hopes and dreams for Daniel came to an abrupt halt when we heard the words, “we are sorry to inform you that we cannot locate your son”. Those words will forever remain the most devastating words of our lives.

We were first notified on May 15, 2006 at approximately 6:00 p.m. that Daniel had not been seen since midnight of May 14 / May 15, 2006 when he had left his friends in the disco. Arrangements were made for us to travel to St. Thomas and meet the ship and find out more information. As we were getting ready to leave our home at approximately 11:30 a.m. on May 16, 2006 we received another phone call. For the first time we were told a surveillance video had been viewed and it showed Daniel standing by the rail and falling into the sea. Up until that point we still had held out hope that Daniel was simply missing and would soon be found. We were very disturbed to learn later that despite being notified at 11:30 a.m. about the surveillance video, the cruise line became aware of the surveillance video many hours before advising us, leaving us with many hours of false hope.

We soon discovered further disturbing information. We learned that Daniel had left the disco area at around 12:00 midnight. We learned, from the FBI, that one of the bartenders had stopped serving drinks to Daniel that evening, and Daniel and the boys proceeded to another bar onboard the ship and Daniel was able to obtain additional drinks at this bar. We learned Daniel left his friends at around midnight and went out onto the deck of the vessel and fell asleep on a deck chair, which was also caught on the surveillance video cameras of the cruise line at a little past midnight on May 15, 2006. The video then observed him awakening around 2:15 a.m. walking over to the railing, apparently vomiting and then sliding over the rail into the sea.

We learned that the cruise line never monitored its surveillance videotapes, in fact did not review the surveillance videotapes promptly when they learned that Daniel was missing. As a result, there was a significant delay in notifying the authorities that Daniel was missing. Any rescue efforts that were conducted took place many hours after the time Daniel was captured on the video camera going overboard, resulting in a futile rescue effort on the part of the United Stated Coast Guard.

Of course, our family was saddened, as well as angry. We demanded answers and information. While we were in St. Thomas the FBI provided us with information about their investigation, and the cruise line provided us some information until we started asking specific questions, such as the rail heights, security standards, questions about why the video surveillance cameras were no monitored, which resulted in the attorney for the cruise line instructing the cruise line not to answer anymore of our questions, leaving us with many unanswered questions.

We then were further disturbed to learn that after we left St. Thomas, and after Daniel’s traveling companions had also left the vessel, the cruise line circulated a detailed letter to all of the passengers which contained inaccurate information. The letter was obviously an attempt by the cruise line to portray the incident in a light more favorable to the cruise line, but was not accurate and resulted in rumors circulating about the cause of the incident.

At this point and time, we still question the many shortcomings in the safety precautions and policies of the cruise line industry. We have many unanswered questions, including why surveillance cameras were not monitored, what took so long to notify the authorities and start a search, and why did Daniel have to die in the manner he did.

Currently, our objective is to move forward in Daniel’s memory to assist in the effort of improving cruise line safety….. so that the next “Daniel” has the opportunity to live out his dreams.


Music Heard On Daniel Dipiero Page:

Bryan Poirier wrote and performed this at Daniel DiPiero’s memorial service. Bryan, Daniel’s cousin, is a member of New Third Coast out of Traverse City, MI.  He had this written and took it to the studio while the DiPiero’s were still in St Thomas dealing with the loss of Daniel.