An Australian father-of-two tragically died after falling overboard a cruise ship where he was celebrating his wife's birthday party.
John Pfahl, a 37-year-old London-based entrepreneur from Sydney, had been partying aboard the Royal Caribbean's Symphony of the Seas in the Virgin Islands when he fell into the waters between St. Thomas and St. Kitts in the early hours of August 14, according to the Daily Mail.
The Royal Caribbean confirmed the death and said the cruise ship had immediately turned around after realizing that he fell, and launched a rescue boat to search for him.
"Upon the initial report that an Australian adult male had gone overboard, our ship immediately turned, launched a rescue boat, and conducted a full-scale search," the company said.
One of the passengers on the ship said they saw the rescue crew flashing their search lights in the water between 3 am and 4 am but that there were no warnings or announcements about a passenger falling overboard.
His body was spotted in the water and retrieved, and then taken back to the ship, where he was pronounced dead. Medical examiners were waiting on the dock when the ship arrived at St. Thomas.
Another said they were sure his family was on the ship at the time. "We think he was travelling with people because crew members were quickly notified after it had happened," they revealed.
Pfahl, a native of Sydney, had graduated from the University of Sydney and briefly worked as an investment banker for Goldman Sachs before launching 'Rockstar Group' in 2007. His company mentored entrepreneurs and invested in companies in Britain and saw him rub shoulders with the likes of philanthropist Richard Branson, British Prime Minister, Boris Johnson, and Bob Geldof.
"We are deeply saddened by the tragic incident that occurred on the Symphony of the Seas en route to Saint Thomas," said the Royal Caribbean in a statement. "Our hearts go out to the family and loved ones for their loss, and our care team is providing support and assistance during this difficult time."
A source close to the family revealed that the death happened while Pfahl was holidaying with his wife and two young children and that friends and family had been left "absolutely distraught" at his passing.
Lee McTeer, the co-founder of AmeriCamp, paid tribute to Pfahl and described him as a "brilliant, innovative and caring family man who was an inspiration to everyone around him." He said he was "stunned and shocked by this tragic news" and that "JP will leave a lasting legacy through his family and all of the people he has helped mentor."
An investigation has been launched to determine how he fell from the ship, with the current suspicion being that he fell from his balcony, which was his last known location.
"We are working closely with authorities and will continue to assist in their investigation," the Royal Caribbean said.
This is not the first such incident on a ship operated by the Royal Caribbean in recent times either. Last month, 18-month-old Chloe Rae Margaret died after falling 150 feet from the 11th deck of the Freedom of the Seas when it docked at the port in San Juan, Puerto Rico. Her family announced that they would sue Royal Caribbean Cruises for "not having a safer situation on the 11th floor of that cruise ship."