Search For Conquest Passenger - WLOX.com - The News for South Mississippi

05/11/03

Search For Conquest Passenger

Thousands of people returned to the Port of Gulfport Sunday, following a seven-day cruise. This time, the Conquest had one less passenger than she left with.

The Coast guard is continuing to search for a missing man who fell over from the cruise ship Conquest," said Chief Petty Officer Jeff Murphy of the United States Coast Guard.

Authorities said the man fell overboard, some time between midnight and 1 Sunday morning. It happened a few miles south of the Mississippi coastline, between Cat and Ship islands.

"We were laying in our bed. We had just gone to sleep, and they said, Bravo, bravo...starboard side," said one passenger who was on the ship when the incident happened. "I don't think they knew it was on the complete loudspeaker because it came into our rooms...it was what, 12-something...it was very late. It was very loud. "

Shortly after, the Conquest crew sent out rescue boats to look for 35-year-old Matthew Scott Bjorn. The Coast Guard and local authorities also launched a search, but weather conditions posed a problem.

"Under great conditions, it's very difficult to find a person. The conditions out there over night were high seas as well as wind conditions were about 20 knots," said CPO Jeff Murphy.

The Harrison County Sheriff's Department is handling the investigation, and they're following a few leads.

"We sent our investigators and officers to the ship by interviewing witnesses and so forth, we found that he and his wife were having a minor domestic argument. He was extremely intoxicated...they had some words...one of the neighbors that was in a room next to him, they overhead a lot of stuff. The neighbor heard him when he went out on the balcony and fell over the furniture. She saw him climb over the rail, and hold on. She hollered for her husband, and about that time, the guy jumped," said Lt. Robbie Cox of the Harrison Co. Sheriff's Dept.

Toni Miles

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