Woman's death on cruise ship ruled due to natural causes

Katherine Kennedy, 64, of Midlothian, Va., died of heart disease

  • Enchantment of the Seas, a 2,252 guest Royal Caribbean cruise ship, is shown in a Baltimore Sun file photo.
Enchantment of the Seas, a 2,252 guest Royal Caribbean cruise… (Kim Hairston / Baltimore…)
March 28, 2013|By Justin George, The Baltimore Sun

Heart disease killed a 64-year-old passenger on a cruise ship out of Baltimore, the FBI said Thursday, ruling out foul play and ending a brief mystery as to how the Virginia woman died last weekend.

"It's considered a natural death," FBI Special Agent Rich Wolf said. The FBI identified the woman as Katherine Kennedy of Midlothian, Va.

Kennedy and her husband were on a six-night, seven-day cruise that began March 18. Among 2,409 passengers, they were aboard Royal Caribbean's Enchantment of the Seas, a 989-foot ship with 11 decks that had stopped in Port Canaveral, Fla.; Nassau and CocoCay, Bahamas.

The ship was on its way back to Baltimore on Sunday when Kennedy died in her cabin. Her husband, who was in the room, summoned ship officials. Because the death occurred miles from the mainland in U.S. waters off the coast of North Carolina, the FBI was notified by the cruise ship.

Kennedy had fallen in the cabin, sustaining a cut on her forehead, which caused the FBI to rule her manner of death as undetermined or "suspicious" until an autopsy could be performed.

"She sustained a laceration to her forehead from falling in the cabin," Wolf said. "The circumstances of this were different because of the laceration and the blood that comes with that. We are not medical authorities."

The ship continued its scheduled route, maintaining communication with the FBI until it arrived in Baltimore on Monday morning. FBI agents met the ship when it arrived and boarded it to interview several passengers before they could disembark, Wolf said.

Kennedy's body was taken to the office of the chief medical examiner in Baltimore, which performed the autopsy. The results, released Thursday, showed Kennedy died suddenly because her heart failed.

The case was closed, Wolf said.

Wolf did not release the name of Kennedy's husband but said he was cooperative throughout the investigation and has been through an ordeal.

A man reached at Kennedy's home, who did not identify himself, said he was "disturbed" by news accounts of Kennedy's death, which the FBI initially described as suspicious.

"That's all I have to say," the man said.

The Enchantment of the Seas has been based out of Baltimore since 2010 and offers year-round trips to the Bahamas, Bermuda and the Caribbean as well as seasonal trips to New England and Canada. After FBI agents concluded interviews, it left port hours after it arrived on Monday on another trip with 2,719 passengers.



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