A Georgia man with autism went overboard on a Carnival cruise ship Sunday evening and is presumed dead by his family.
Luke Renner, 22, was traveling in a group of nine as part of a five-night trip by the Gwinnett-based Wishes 4 Me Foundation on a Carnival Fantasy cruise that departed from Mobile, Ala., on Saturday, Stacy Georges, Renner's caregiver for many years, told AJC.com.
“It’s so sad,” Georges said. “I feel so bad for the people in the cruise. I’m sure they loved Luke. It could have happened to anybody.”
His group, which included three chaperones, reported him missing while the ship was en route to Progreso, Mexico, she said. His parents were not on board.
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On Wednesday, Carnival confirmed that Renner climbed over the deck rail and jumped off the ship, the Mobile-based news station WKRG reported.
The news station obtained a statement from the cruise line that said, in part: “Everyone at Carnival is deeply saddened and our thoughts and prayers are with the guest’s family and friends. Our Care Team is providing assistance and support to his family and traveling companions.”
His family released a statement that said he may have mistakenly believed he was going swimming. His family presumes he's dead, but they don't blame the group that organized the trip.
“He loved the Wishes 4 Me special needs community where he lived, and we were delighted when they planned this special event,” the family’s statement said. “He loved cruises. Although we are devastated by his death, we are thankful he was there with people we loved and trusted, when he died. We are confident Wishes 4 Me watched over him with the utmost care and we do not hold them in any way responsible.”
Georgia Autism Advocacy also released a statement on Facebook that said, “With sad hearts we are sharing the news about Luke. Many of you know and love the Renner family and will want to keep them in your thoughts and prayers during this time of grief.”
Georges described Renner as a “very friendly and happy boy.”
“He always tried to please the adults. He comes from a very sweet Christian family,” she said.
Cox Media Group