Kristen Schroder, 26, and Paul Rossington, 30, of Barraba, Australia, had only been dating for about 10 months when they took a cruise together. Their vacation aboard the Carnival cruise line ship "Spirit" was fated to be their last -- they died on May 8, 2013, after Schroder fell overboard and Rossington, a paramedic, lept in after her. Their bodies were never found.
At the inquest into the Australian couple's deaths, deputy state coroner Hugh Dillon said on June 30 that Schroder was making a "dramatic gesture to alarm and test" her boyfriend when she climbed up onto the balcony, according to The Sydney Morning Herald. Schroder then most likely slipped on the railing and fell into the ocean, Dillon noted to the NSW Coroner's Court.
The vacation was reportedly meant to be a test for the couple’s relationship, which was fraught with conflict. They were both divorced and Schroder suffered from anxiety and depression.
"I'm really worried I'm losing control and hate that I am lashing out at the person I care about most in the world and has been the biggest support I could have imagined,” she wrote in her journal a few months before she died. "I don't like who I am or how I'm treating him and I need to figure it out.”
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Though it’s not clear what exactly prompted Schroder to climb over the railing, the couple was seen on camera fighting in the casino earlier that evening. An infrared camera also captured footage of Schroder jumping over the railing before Rossington did a “safety jump” after her.
Dillon said they would have experienced “the loneliest of deaths in a dark ocean” when they jumped into the water. He called their deaths tragic.
“What they had struggled to achieve in life, loving unity, they probably managed in their last actions alive,” he said, according to The Daily Telegraph.
Dillon commended Rossington for his valiant effort to save Schroder and said he would recommend him for a bravery award. Investigating officer Detective Sergeant Michael O’Keefe said Rossington deserved the Cross of Valour — Australia’s highest bravery award — for his “supreme act of courage.”
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Christeen Rossington said she was “very humbled” that her son would be recommended for the award.
“Paul was a very humble, quiet man and hated attention being drawn to himself,” she said at the inquest into his death.
Dillon also recommended that Carnival cruise lines ensure passengers receive man overboard instructions as part of their safety briefing.
Image via The Daily Telegraph, Facebook