Death off Alaska cruise ship is probed
ANCHORAGE - A woman who went overboard from the cruise ship Zaandam appears to have committed suicide, Holland America said yesterday.
“Based on evidence and information to date, it does not appear to be foul play,’’ spokeswoman Sally Andrews said from Seattle. “From what we have seen to date, it appears to be a suicide. Of course, the final determination will be made by the investigating authorities, with whom we are cooperating fully’’
The passenger was identified as Amber Malkuch, 45, of Arlington, Wash., the US Coast Guard said. Malkuch’s body was found Monday afternoon after a massive search stretching over 80 miles in the waterways of Southeast Alaska.
“They have confirmed that is the woman we’re looking for due to finding her ID on her person,’’ Petty Officer Jon-Paul Rios said.
The body was taken to Juneau, and troopers said an autopsy would be standard procedure.
Alaska state troopers were to begin an investigation yesterday when the cruise ship docked in Sitka. A spokeswoman said the agency was not ready to determine it was a suicide.
“We’re not going to make any guesses at this time,’’ troopers spokeswoman Megan Peters said. “It is too premature to label it anything but a death investigation.’’ Suicide is “certainly a possibility, but we need to investigate and we need to make sure.’’
Among those who will be questioned will be Malkuch’s traveling companion, who reported her missing Monday morning. She was last seen hours earlier after she ordered room service, when the vessel was near Alaska’s Douglas Island.
The crew of a commercial helicopter found the body at about 4:30 p.m. Monday about 12 miles northwest of where the passenger was last seen, Chief Petty Officer Dana Warr said.