He­li­copter res­cues frighten cruise pas­sen­gers

The Tribune (SLO) - - News - BY MARK LEWIS AND JARI TAN­NER

STA­VANGER, NOR­WAY

Vik­ing Sky cruise ship pas­sen­ger Rod­ney Hor­gen can pin­point the mo­ment when he thought he was fac­ing the end: when a huge wave crashed through the ship’s glass doors and swept his wife 30 feet across the floor.

Hor­gen, 62, of Min­nesota, was vis­it­ing Nor­way on a dream pil­grim­age to his an­ces­tral home­land when the lux­ury cruise trip quickly turned into a night­mare.

The Vik­ing Sky was car­ry­ing 1,373 pas­sen­gers and crew, go­ing from Nor­way’s Arc­tic north to the south­ern city of Sta­vanger when it had en­gine trou­ble along Nor­way’s rough, frigid western coast. Strug­gling in heavy seas to avoid be­ing dashed on the rocky coast, the ship is­sued may­day call Sat­ur­day af­ter­noon.

Hor­gan said he knew some­thing was badly amiss Sat­ur­day when the guests on the heav­ing ship were all sum­moned to the ship’s muster points.

“When the win­dows and door flew open and the6 feet of wa­ter swept peo­ple and ta­bles 20 to 30 feet, that was the breaker. I said to myself, ‘This is it,’ ” Hor­gen told The As­so­ci­ated Press. “I grabbed my wife but I couldn’t hold on. And she was thrown across the room. And then she got thrown back again by the wave com­ing back.”

Pho­tos posted on so­cial me­dia showed the ship list­ing from side to side and fur­ni­ture smash­ing vi­o­lently into the ship’s walls. The hands and faces of fel­low pas­sen­gers were cut and bleed­ing from the shat­tered glass, he said.

An ex­pe­ri­enced fish­er­man, Hor­gen said he had never ex­pe­ri­enced such rough boat­ing con­di­tions.

“I did not have a lot of hope. I knew how cold that wa­ter was and where we were and the waves and ev­ery­thing. You would not last very long,” he said. “That was very, very fright­en­ing.”

And yet, the most fright­en­ing part of the trip was yet to come.

That would be when pas­sen­gers like Hor­gen were winched off the heav­ing ship by he­li­copter, one-by-one as winds howled around them in the dark of night, by res­cue work­ers try­ing to evac­u­ate every­one on board.

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