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TMCNet:  Bryan-College Station residents trapped on ailing Triumph

[February 15, 2013]

Bryan-College Station residents trapped on ailing Triumph

Feb 15, 2013 (The Eagle - McClatchy-Tribune Information Services via COMTEX) -- David Weir and his wife Judy spent Valentine's Day aboard a cruise ship with four other couples, trying to stomach cold meals dropped from a helicopter amid the scent of urine creeping from the soggy carpets.


"We see land in sight and the boat is moving," Weir said late Thursday. "Hopefully in the next few hours we'll be off this nightmare." Weir, an athletic trainer for the Texas A&M football team, said the group of friends who attend First Baptist Church of Bryan booked the trip with Carnival Cruise Lines last summer to celebrate birthdays.

Their hope of a relaxing vacation quickly turned into a stressful affair, Weir said, when passengers learned early Sunday that a fire had sparked on board the Carnival Triumph.

"We hear a call for firefighters to report to an area," Weir said. "A few minutes later we lost all power and went on to emergency power, outside lighting, no lighting in the cabins. We were dead in the water by 5:30 a.m." Weir said the trip was pleasant until Sunday, when conditions turned "horrendous." "The smells, the carpets are soaking wet with urine," he said. "We haven't been able to flush the toilet since early Monday." Some cabins have completely flooded, he said, and people are sleeping wherever they can find a dry area.

Red plastic bags have been placed over the trash cans for the 4,000 aboard the ship to defecate in, Weir said, and are placed outside rooms for the cabin stewards to pick up.

"The urine smell out of the carpets and restroom is horrible," he said. "You don't want to touch a thing. It's germ-filled." Weir, who was finally in cell range on the ship, cut the phone call short to reserve battery power for phone calls to his family, he said.

His daughter, Ashley Weir, a 19-year-old student at Blinn College in Brenham, said she has been driving back to Bryan-College Station daily to be with her family, including her 16-year-old sister Heather, to wait for phone calls from her parents.

"It's definitely been stressful not knowing or really being able to talk to them," Ashley said. "I'm not worried that anything else will go wrong, I just know they're uncomfortable." She said her parents are planning to take a bus home from Mobile, where the ship docked late Thursday.

"It's very exciting, definitely, just to have them on land," she said. "To have them back here and safe will just be a relief." Weir said she was thankful for the group of local friends -- Jeannie and David Kipp, Kim and Larry Dooley, Derek and Holly Moore, and Ben and Sherri Welch -- who have created their "own little support structure." "I want to see my family," he said. "There have been ups and downs and you question 'Are we going to make it through this ' It's a race against time ... I want to give my girls and parents a hug, and get a nice warm shower before I do that." ___ (c)2013 The Eagle (Bryan, Texas) Visit The Eagle (Bryan, Texas) at www.theeagle.com Distributed by MCT Information Services

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