When news broke yesterday that a man died after climbing and then falling from the forward mast of a cruise ship at PortMiami, many might have assumed he was intoxicated when he pulled the stunt. Witnesses say that wasn't the case.
The man has now been identified as Kendall Wernet, a student at Clemson University, who was on the cruise as a reward for high achievement at his part-time job as a house painter at a company called Student Painters.
Steve Acorn, the owner of Student Painters, tells South Carolina news station WYFF that Wernet wasn't drunk and had climbed up the mast with other people to view the Miami sunrise.
The incident happened shortly after 7 a.m. aboard the Carnival Ecstasy while it was pulling into PortMiami. Wernet fell from the forward mast to a deck below, the equivalent of about two stories. He was taken to Jackson Memorial Hospital's Ryder Trauma Center, where he later died.
Acorn says Wernet and a few other members of the group noticed people sitting on the platform on the forward mast the night before and decided to climb up to view the sunrise. The mast is in a restricted area, but apparently no one was around to enforce the rule.
Four other people had climbed the mast and were lying on the platform. However, Wernet was standing. Suddenly, a radar near the mast platform turned on and began to rotate. The radar bumped Wernet, causing him to fall. He suffered a head injury when he landed.
Wernet was a junior who worked hard during the summer as a house painter to be able to afford his college bills. He was also a member of the school's sailing club and symphonic band, as well as a student leader at the business school.
"He was the kind of guy that if you had a daughter, you'd want him to marry her," Acorn said.
"We are deeply saddened to learn of the tragic death of Clemson student Kendall Wernet, a junior management major from Arden, N.C.," Clemson University Dean of Students Shannon Finning said in a statement. "Our heartfelt condolences go out to his family and friends, and we stand ready to help them through this difficult time."