The Queen Mary attraction was the site of a fatal plunge Monday night, which was possibly intended, although witnesses said her boyfriend grabbed her hand before she slipped from his grasp. The 26-year-old woman, identified Wednesday by the coroner as Kelly Ryann Dorrel of Long Beach, fell 75 feet into the frigid water between the permanently moored ship and its parking lot. A ship spokeswoman said that she was unaware of any such falls in recent memory, if ever.
Some sources report that the Queen Mary has been the site of at least 49 reported deaths. Among them was that of an 18-year-old crewman, John Pedder, who was accidentally crushed in Door No. 13 of its engine room during a routine drill in 1966.
But perhaps the greatest tragedy occurred during World War II, when the ship collided with one of its escorting vessels, the HMS Curacoa, in the North Atlantic, as the Queen carried nearly 20,000 U.S. troops from the 29th Infantry Division. As the ships proceeded in a zigzag pattern to elude Nazi submarines, the Queen struck the light cruiser broadside, cutting the smaller vessel in half. Only 99 of the Curacoa's crew of 338 reportedly survived. The accident was not publicly known until after the war.
Queen Mary historian and executive producer and host of Cruising Authority, Barry Vaudrin, said that he hasn't heard of any significant number of deaths on the Queen Mary. But he told Patch that any deaths on these types of ships are not a fault of the ship itself.
"Occasionally people fall off the ship and die, this is true," he said. "But these accounts where people fall off ships are mostly alcohol related. To put it bluntly, it's just people being stupid."
He went on to say that the "ships are safe, the gangways are safe."
"You will not fall of the Queen Mary or any other ship unless you want to, or are doing something stupid or risky," he said.
That being said, Vaudrin discussed the gangway collapse of the Queen's successor, the Queen Mary 2, as it was docked in November 2003.
That accident sent victims tumbling 50 feet to the ground amid twisted and broken scaffolding, and killed 15 people, a 10-year-old child among them. Many of the visitors on that fateful day were family members of workers who were building the ship, which was dry-docked at an Atlantic Coast shipyard.
The Queen Mary II is currently sailing.
Vaudrin calls the claims about the Queen Mary being haunted "mostly a fabricated PR move."
"From my perspective, ships are strange, they make a lot of strange sounds, they are floating, they move subtly," he said. "I think most people attribute these sounds to hauntings, but as someone who has been on the Queen Mary hundreds of times, I have never experienced anything remotely close to a haunting."