MONTGOMERY COUNTY

Rockville Teacher Jumps From Cruise Ship Off Fla.

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By Mariana Minaya
Washington Post Staff Writer
Tuesday, July 3, 2007

Middle school science teacher Scott Durbin of Rockville apparently had spent Sunday evening drinking with friends aboard Carnival's Liberty cruise ship off the coast of Boca Raton, Fla., when he went onto the deck of the 3,500-passenger vessel.

Then, said FBI spokeswoman Judy Orihuela, Durbin "got into a life raft and took the ax and started to cut through the ropes."

When a security officer tried to get him out, Durbin jumped.

Overboard.

That's 36 feet down from a moving ship.

"It's like hitting concrete when you hit the water," Coast Guard spokesman Luis Diaz said.

The ship's crew threw life rings and jackets. A Coast Guard cutter, which was nine miles away, reached him about an hour later.

"This person is very fortunate," Diaz said. "The rescue was almost immediate, and that was to his benefit."

Durbin, 28, who works at Robert Frost Middle School, was taken to a hospital in Fort Lauderdale, Fla., Diaz said. He could not be reached for comment.

His grandfather, Wayne Durbin Sr. of Bakerton, Pa., said that he had not spoken to his grandson but that he believed he was fine.

"I guess he's all right, the way I understand it," Wayne Durbin said. "He's pretty well shook up, but . . . he's all right."

Montgomery County schools spokesman Brian Edwards said he could not confirm that Scott Durbin was on the ship, but he said Durbin has taught sixth- and seventh-grade science at Robert Frost in Rockville since 2002. Durbin is starting a new job as a student-support specialist, an entry-level administrative position in which he will deal with disciplinary matters, Edwards said.

"He was a really nice teacher," said Jordie Halevy, 15, who had him as a teacher in the sixth grade. "Overall, nobody really had any problems with him. It doesn't seem like him."

The ship had left Fort Lauderdale on Sunday afternoon for a six-day cruise to Freeport in the Bahamas, according to a statement from Carnival Cruise Lines.

About 11:30 p.m., Coast Guard officials received a call that a man had jumped from a cruise ship. When they arrived, they found Durbin in the water 50 miles east of Boca Raton.

There have been three other cases of people falling or jumping overboard from ships in South Florida waters since March, Diaz said. Two of the incidents apparently involved alcohol. On Sunday morning, an 18-year-old man died after jumping from the cruise line's Ecstasy ship sailing from Texas to Mexico.

In a statement, Carnival said that it encourages responsible drinking from guests and that its bartenders are trained to recognize signs of intoxication.


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