Officials question cruise line's suicide announcement

Officials question cruise line's suicide announcement »Play Video
Amber Malkuch
SEATTLE -- Two weeks after a local cruise ship passenger went overboard, Alaska State Troopers are asking Holland America why they were so quick to declare the woman's death a suicide.

One day after Amber Malkuch died at sea, the cruise line said it appeared the woman took her own life.

However, state troopers say they have no idea how Holland America could have known that so quickly and were shocked when the company made the announcement, because investigators still don't know how Malkuch died.

"We're the people actually looking into the exact cause of death," said Alaska State Troopers spokeswoman Megan Peters. "We're the ones doing the interviews and looking at the evidence."

Officials say Malkuch, of Arlington, Wash., went overboard August 3 from the cruise ship Zaandam. The next morning her traveling companion reported her missing when the ship was near Glacier Bay National Park.

Malkuch's body was found in the water off Alaska's Douglas Island, about 75 miles north of Juneau.

Investigators say they are nowhere near determining a cause of death because they are still looking over several key pieces of evidence, including photographs, interviews and toxicology reports.

"And if we haven't been able to make a determination how can the cruise ship line who isn't trained?" said Peters.

The day after Malkuch's death, however, a Holland America spokesperson told KOMO News that "based on evidence and information to date, it does not appear to be foul play. From what we have seen to date, it appears to be a suicide."

Peters said those comments are all speculation.

"Bottom line is the only person who really knows for sure is Amber and, while Amber's not here to tell us, we have to look at the evidence and piece it together that way."

Holland America would not comment on why they decided Malkuch's death appeared to be a suicide, but said they are continuing to work with state investigators in Alaska.

Alaska State Troopers say they were allowed onboard the Zaandam only one time to investigate.

Malkuch's friends said that after hearing from Holland America three weeks ago they assumed the investigation was over. They are surprised that officials haven't ruled anything out, including foul play.