Ocean Countess Rescue: Sick Grandmother Dropped off Cruise Ship into Freezing Arctic

Posted Apr 21st 2011 11:00 AM


sick grandmother dropped off cruise ship into arctic

Getty Images

In a botched rescue attempt, a sick 73-year-old British woman was dropped into frigid Arctic waters on March 29th. A paramedic team was trying to move the woman from a cruise ship to another boat that could take her to a hospital.

Janet Richardson was sailing aboard The Ocean Countess with her husband on a trip to see the Northern Lights. After she began to feel dizzy and ill – reportedly suffering from internal bleeding – she was assessed by the ship's doctor who recommended her transfer to an onshore hospital.

Paramedics and a lifeboat were called.

The lifeboat pulled alongside the cruise ship, and Richardson was passed between the vessels on a stretcher held by six men. That's when the situation took a turn for the worst.

"The vessels, which hadn't been latched together, suddenly moved apart by several feet as they were transferring her," passenger Colin Prescott told The Sun. "[This] caused the rescue crews to drop the stretcher into the sea."

Conflicting reports say it took rescuers between four and eight minutes to pull Richardson from the water. The water temperature was reportedly -3 Celsius or about 27 degrees Fahrenheit.

"I just saw the end of the stretcher go in. It was very traumatic to see her fall in. I thought I was going to lose her," Richardson's husband George told The Sun.

When she was finally removed from the freezing sea, Richardson was given mouth to mouth and her temperature stabilized. She was taken to a hospital in Norway.

After making some progress, she was transferred to a hospital in England. She remains in intensive care, being treated for both injuries sustained during her ordeal and other previous conditions, according to MSNBC.

"The authorities over there say health and safety is paramount," said George. "But if they'd wanted to be totally safe they could have gone into port or held the lifeboat to the ship with a rope or something."

Apparently, going into port would have caused the ship extra expense and delays.

The Richardsons' ship, The Ocean Countess, was operated by the Cruise and Maritime Voyages fleet under charter from the Majestic International Cruises Group.

An investigation into the incident is being launched by the ship's owners and Norwegian rescue authorities, reports USA Today.

Filed Under: Cruise, News

Add a Comment

*0 / 3000 Character Maximum


Filter by:


May 13 2011 at 1:32 PM Report abuse rate up rate down Reply

wow so sad i certainly hope she feels better soon

April 27 2011 at 4:09 PM Report abuse rate up rate down Reply

I hope she recovers - she certainly deserves to after everything she's been through!

April 21 2011 at 6:47 PM Report abuse +1 rate up rate down Reply

This is awful, my goodness she would have been better off on the ship.

April 21 2011 at 5:52 PM Report abuse rate up rate down Reply


April 21 2011 at 5:52 PM Report abuse -2 rate up rate down Reply
1 reply to nherent's comment

oopsie-daisy ???? what kind of cold hearted person are you???? or are things just funny because it didn't happen to your family...

April 21 2011 at 6:24 PM Report abuse +4 rate up rate down Reply

I certainly don't mean to be unkind, but if it weren't for the fact this poor woman was older (and apparently ill), watching the episode might have been humorous. I'm sure everyone felt horrified at what happened.

April 21 2011 at 5:48 PM Report abuse -4 rate up rate down Reply
2 replies to Bobbie's comment

So if she had been younger and sick it would have been funny?

April 21 2011 at 5:53 PM Report abuse +4 rate up rate down Reply

oh another cold hearted person ...nothing humorous about this it's very serious the woman could have died from hyperthermia and possible other injuries if she had been bumped into on of the ships
and the woman being older or ill has nothing to do with this situation at all..try having some compasion before your humor kicks in ..I bet your one of those rubber neck people who laugh at cae wrecks and such.. be thankful it wasn't your family member and I hope it never is ..they'd die right in front of you while you decided how humorous it was via camera ir video prior to dialing 911

April 21 2011 at 6:33 PM Report abuse +3 rate up rate down Reply
Marty Hunter

There's NO excuse for this to happen! It was careless of the crew not to latch the two vessels together! Especially in an emergency situation. They know waves and the ocean can cause swells up and down movement and sideways irratically. That woman could have sank to the bottom in that carriage. I think the cruise line should give her and her husband free cruises and compensation for dropping her in the ocean!

April 21 2011 at 5:22 PM Report abuse +10 rate up rate down Reply
2 replies to Marty Hunter's comment

Believe me, I bet she gets more than that!!!

April 21 2011 at 5:54 PM Report abuse +4 rate up rate down Reply

She deserves alot more than free cruises - not to mention the fact that neither she or her husband will probably ever set foot on a cruise ship again.

Afterall, cruises are supposed to generate "fond" memories - not nightmares!

April 21 2011 at 6:50 PM Report abuse +1 rate up rate down Reply

Oh my, that poor woman. I wish her a speedy recovery.

April 21 2011 at 5:16 PM Report abuse +9 rate up rate down Reply

To bad HRH Prince William didn't get to save her.

April 21 2011 at 5:12 PM Report abuse -7 rate up rate down Reply
1 reply to Ric's comment

Come up with something decent to say.

April 21 2011 at 5:42 PM Report abuse +2 rate up rate down Reply

Wow! Talk about a couple of buffoons!

April 21 2011 at 5:09 PM Report abuse +3 rate up rate down Reply

Don't Miss


Find the best resorts, wherever you are.

Hit The Slopes

Tales of learning to expect the unexpected.

Change Your View
Getty Images

Unexpected encounters and wildlife tours.

Cows, Sharks, Monkeys & More

Travel Careers

amtrak train conductor

See the world and interact with people from different cultures.

flight attendant plane interior

It's as crazy as you think.