A little boy is fighting for his life after nearly drowning on a cruise ship on its way from New York Harbor to the Caribbean, authorities said.
The unidentified 8-year-old boy was discovered in a pool on Royal Caribbean’s Anthem of the Sea Thursday evening after being underwater for 13 minutes, a spokeswoman for the cruise line told InsideEdition.com.
The ship’s medical team performed CPR on the child, but the boy required additional medical attention, and the ship altered its course back toward Bayonne, New Jersey, where it had set out, officials said.
Passengers were first alerted to an emergency onboard around 5:45 p.m., as a code alpha — a medical emergency — was announced over the ship’s intercom, Mike Ritchie, who was on the ship, told InsideEdition.com.
“It was repeated a few times. We've heard this before on other cruise ships, and it's often not anything big,” he said. “About 45 minutes later we learned that it was pretty serious. There were no announcements at that point, but there were some word-of-mouth around the ship that a kid at nearly drowned in the pool.”
Emergency responders from the Coast Guard, FDNY and NYPD rushed to the ship after a 911 call about an 8-year-old child came in about 8 p.m., police said. Passengers were kept off the pool deck, Ritchie said.
“The first one to get there was an NYPD boat, and they pulled up next to the ship. What looked like a medic got off carrying some medical care. About 10 minutes later the fire department showed up,” Ritchie said.
A helicopter with the NYPD’s aviation unit airlifted the boy to Staten Island University Hospital, where he was in critical condition Thursday.
A spokeswoman for the hospital declined to provide an update to the boy’s condition Friday at the family’s request.
The child, who is from Maryland, was traveling with a group of about 50, all of whom also left the ship after the incident, Royal Caribbean’s spokeswoman said.
“Royal Caribbean’s Care Team is providing support to the guest’s family,” a statement from Royal Caribbean said.
The Anthem of the Sea made headlines in February when it was forced to return to Bayonne after it encountered severe storms and heavy winds on its way to the Bahamas.
One passenger suffered a black eye, while another was so fearful that he wouldn't survive the incident that he recorded a farewell message to his family. The cruise line came under fire for not avoiding the storm.
"They are taking no responsibility," another passenger, Lisa Huscher, told Inside Edition at the time. "They knew the storm was coming."
Royal Caribbean said in a statement: “We apologize for exposing our guests and crew to the weather they faced, and for what they went through."
The ship set back out on its nine-day journey that included stops in Bermuda, St. Martin, Puerto Rico and Haiti at about 2:15 a.m., Ritchie said.
Life onboard the ship had largely returned to normal Friday, but the section of the deck that the incident took place remained blocked off, Ritchie said.
“I've got three kids of my own, and I couldn't imagine going through this,” Ritchie said. “I could only imagine what they were going through… it’s just heartbreaking.”