• Pittsburgh-area woman on cruise ship that rescues stranded fishermen

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    MIAMI - A Pittsburgh-area woman was on board a cruise ship that helped rescue a boat full of stranded Haitian fishermen over the weekend in the Caribbean.

    Melissa Hipple, from North Huntingdon, told Channel 11 that she was on board Carnival Horizon for an eight-day vacation with her family to celebrate birthdays. She said they had just left Aruba on Thursday, and were heading back when the drifting boat of fishermen was spotted bobbing in the waves.

    Hipple said the cruise ship managed to get close enough to bring the fishermen on board after the U.S. Coast Guard gave the OK.

    Hipple said information relayed once the men were on board said the group all seemed to be in good health. She said they received medical treatment once on the ship, along with food and water. She said the men described how the motor on their small boat had given out, and they were drifting for two days before being rescued.

    A spokesperson for Carnival Cruise Lines confirmed the events to Channel 11, saying in a statement, "Following the direction of the U.S. Coast Guard, Carnival Horizon diverted its course and participated in a search and rescue mission, bringing several passengers from the craft on board." 

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    Here is the full statement from Carnival:

    "Continuing its longstanding tradition of assisting mariners in distress, Carnival Horizon was alerted to a small craft in need of assistance.

    Following the direction of the U.S. Coast Guard, Carnival Horizon diverted its course and participated in a search and rescue mission, bringing several passengers from the craft on board.   The passengers were given food, water and medical treatment.

    There is no expected impact to the ship’s arrival on Sunday.

    Carnival Horizon was en route back to its homeport of Miami as part of the last leg of an eight-day cruise that departed Saturday."

    Hipple said it was certainly a vacation she will not forget, adding her kids are still talking about the rescue.


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