Eight-year-old Zion Smith of Nassau, Bahamas, was reported dead on Saturday after falling from the deck of a Carnival Cruise ship docked in Port Miami, Florida.
The accident occurred at 8:15 a.m. aboard Carnival Glory, which had just returned from a week-long cruise to the Caribbean. Zion was transported to Jackson Memorial Hospital’s Ryder Trauma Center where she died, according to police.
“As it docked, an 8-year-old girl fell from a deck in the ship’s interior atrium to the lower deck,” Detective Alvaro Zabaleta of the Miami-Dade Police Department told the press. “City of Miami Fire Rescue personnel responded to the scene, provided emergency care and transported the child to JMH Ryder Trauma Center, where she succumbed to her injuries. Investigators are working closely with Carnival Cruise Lines personnel to determine the details surrounding this incident.”
Zabaleta said the fall is being investigated by homicide detectives, but declined to say whether there was any reason to suspect foul play. Capt. Ignatius Carroll of Miami Fire-Rescue said the child may have fallen “about 20 feet” during a news conference on Saturday.
“The ship’s medical team responded immediately and the child was transported to the ship’s medical center,” said Carnival Cruise Lines spokeswoman Jayme Eglin in an email to the press. “Our most heartfelt condolences are with the family at this very difficult time.”
Bob Dorr, a retired emergency medical tech who was aboard the ship at the time of the fall, told Local 10 News that he performed CPR on Zion until paramedics arrived.
“Everybody was devastated you couldn’t believe it happened, everybody crying,” Dorr said. “I went running down and I checked for pulses. She had no pulse. I did CPR until the doctor showed up. Once the doctor showed up, she took over.”
Carnival Glory was turned back over to Carnival Cruise Lines “to resume normal operations,” Zabaleta said. The ship was to depart Saturday on another week-long cruise to the Caribbean. That departure was delayed by a few hours, according to tweets from passengers who were forced to wait.
“We want answers, and to see surveillance video from inside the cruise ship,” Zion’s great uncle, Damien Fox, told Local 10 News. He described her as a “happy, loving, playful straight-A student and active child.”
According to Fox, family members who were aboard the ship believe the 8-year-old was pushed over the deck’s railing to her death after an elevator door opened and several people pushed and shoved to get out. He said the family will be pursuing some sort of legal action.
This is not the first time a passenger has died on Carnival Glory, which began operations in 2003. In 2015, Cameron Smook, a Virginia Tech mining and minerals engineering major, died after falling overboard the ship. His death was ruled an accident.