Missing Person

Jason Rappe

This particular story is one that is very near to my heart. It is the story of my brother Jason Rappe’. Jason and his wife Tine’ went on a cruise with Holland America Cruise lines last November. They were having the time of their life until one night when Jason vanished. We have been given no real information as to what exactly happened, or how. All we know is that he somehow went overboard. His hat was found on deck. That’s it. That is the sum of the information we have. Now I want to tell you about the story and the cover-up.

​Tine’ was dancing on one of the bars dance floors, and Jason was enjoying a beer at the bar. When Tine’ came back to the bar he was not there. Someone at the bar told her he had gone to the restroom. After waiting a bit for him to come back she started to look for him. After a brief search she decided to report him missing, and a ship wide search began. A bit later his hat was found on deck and Tine’ was sent away so they could investigate.

Since this time there have been reports that someone saw an object that may have been a person fly past their window. This was reported about 10 minutes prior to Tine’ reporting Jason missing. I have also seen passenger accounts that report having heard screaming coming from near the area where his hat was found. These things, all put together seem to me that it would be a good idea to stop the ship and search the water as well as the ship for the missing person. That is not what happened. It was 4 hours later that the Coast Guard was even notified and the ship turned around.
For the next two days Tine was kept in a cabin on the ship, away from any other passengers and heavily medicated. I admit that she needed the meds, since she was very upset at losing her husband, but the fact that they spent two days filling her with these drugs while they questioned her seems to be a bit of a breach of standard, and moral protocol. My younger brother, father, and I travelled to Ft. Lauderdale Florida to pick up Tine’ and help her get home. We travelled with great hopes of speaking to someone about what had happened. Once we got onto the ship, we were taken quickly to the cabin where Tine was being kept and left there for several hours. The whole time we were in there they had guards posted at the door to insure we did not leave or speak with anyone else on the ship.
After a while they took Tine’ to speak with Broward County Sheriff’s officers. We were all taken down the halls (under guard) to another area where we waited for Tine’ to finish up. Again at no time was there not cruise personnel there watching us and diverting passengers away from our area. When Tine was finished they gave us a copy of a dvd, telling us that it had all of the cctv footage of Jason leading up to the event and it included shots of him “going overboard.”
We were then ushered off of the ship and sent home. We all went back to Olympia Washington where Jason lived, and spent several days with Tine’. On the second day we built up the courage to watch the video. Unable to open most of the files due to software issues, we were growing disappointed. Then we got to the last file. The important one. The video footage of my brother falling to his death. We watched that clip at least 30 times. Not in an attempt to find any extra clues, but in an attempt to find a human being somewhere. The video they gave us was a grainy shot, at night, from at least 100 yards away. The only movement in the video at all was a shadow that looked to me like a bird flying past a distant light. Their video of my brother going overboard, appeared to be nothing but a shot of an empty deck at night.
I have done a few interviews since this tragedy. One of them was with a local newspaper from the town we grew up in. They asked me a ton of questions about who Jason was, and what kinds of things he enjoyed in life. The next day I received a call from them saying they had spoken with Broward County, and since “the case was closed as a suicide” their policy would not allow them to run the story. Not only upset, but very surprised at this information, I sent out a few emails. I asked what evidence they had that it was a suicide. I told them about the joke of a video they had given us, and asked if they had been given something different.
I never received a response to these emails, but a couple of days later our attorney received one stating that the video did not show what they were told it did and the case was still open as a “missing person.” This tells me that they simply took the cruise lines word for it and never even watched the video until they were specifically asked about it. The fact that these types of investigations are legally supposed to be run by the FBI and not local police, was now making me even angrier.
It has now been almost 5 months since he went over the rail. A couple of weeks ago I learned that there was more video. It seems that there was video of Jason in the water, alive and waving towards the ship. This was kept not only from us but also our attorney “in an attempt not to upset the family.” Since when did concealing evidence from an attorney “not to upset the family” become an acceptable practice? It also confirms the nightmare I have had repeatedly since this tragedy. Jason in the water watching his chance at life sail away. That, however is not the biggest thing that it confirms for me. It also confirms that the cruise lines are deliberately covering up and/or lying about the incident.
This story is the reason I am now a member of ICV, and why I will not stop until I am satisfied that the cruise lines are doing everything they can to protect passengers, and run fair and moral investigations on incidents that do happen. I am aware that crime is everywhere. My problem is that everywhere else, there are people who want it to stop, and take steps to prevent it.