Authorities: Woman seemed drunk before fatal fall

AP News
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Posted: Dec 06, 2011 6:14 PM
Authorities: Woman seemed drunk before fatal fall

A woman appeared to be drunk when she climbed onto an upper-deck railing aboard the Queen Mary ocean liner and fell 75 feet to her death, authorities said Tuesday.

The 26-year-old woman, whose boyfriend jumped into the frigid water to save her, was heading from the fourth-floor deck toward an exit Monday night when she decided to climb up on the railing, Long Beach police spokeswoman Nancy Pratt said.

She was pulled from Long Beach Harbor in critical condition and died a short time later at a hospital. Her name was being withheld pending notification of next of kin.

Police concluded her death was an accident.

Her boyfriend, who jumped about 15 feet, was hospitalized for hypothermia and expected to recover. Two police officers and a ship employee who also jumped into the harbor were treated at the scene.

Several witnesses told police she appeared to be arguing with her boyfriend, but police concluded the boyfriend may have simply yelled loudly at her to get off the railing, Pratt said.

"We did not determine there was any kind of heated argument," Pratt told The Associated Press.

Police said the woman and her 40-year-old boyfriend were from Long Beach.

Lt. Cheryl MacWillie of the coroner's office said witnesses told authorities the woman had been drinking with her boyfriend shortly before the fall. The coroner's office will determine the exact cause of death and whether alcohol played a role, she said.

Ship officials released a statement offering "sincere condolences to the woman's family regarding this very sad tragedy."

Temperatures in Long Beach at the time were in the 40s, with water temperatures in the low 60s.

The Queen Mary is permanently anchored in the city's harbor. It now serves as a hotel, with dining and ballroom facilities.