A retired Rio Vista woman used social media to document the engine failure of Viking Sky, a Norwegian cruise ship partially evacuated and then towed back to port this weekend — becoming a literal overnight internet sensation in the process.
Alexus Sheppard, whose social media bio identifies her as an author, educator and LGBT advocate, posted live updates with photos and videos of the emergency to her Facebook and Twitter feeds — all while using hashtags like “#MayDay,” “#WhatARelief” and “#HolyS—.”
Her first two video posts show chairs, tables and passengers tumbling violently near an apparent viewing lounge on board the Viking Sky. Out the window, rough seas can be seen tossing the cruise ship about. “We’re waiting for evacuation by helicopter,” Sheppard captioned the first video.
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“My phone and social media posts are blowing up!” she tweeted early Monday. Her two initial videos have been viewed more than 16 million times total since Saturday.
Sheppard reported from Viking Sky live on Twitter until her phone died; then, she recharged it and continued to give updates on evacuation efforts.
When the ship was finally docked in Molde, Norway, Sheppard then tweeted: “It’s times like these that make us ALL stronger as caring human beings. It does indeed take a village,” followed by: “#VikingSkyCrewRocks.”
She then posted Monday that she was taking an early flight out of Molde.
Viking Sky issued a mayday call when its engine failed at sea, leading hundreds of passengers to be evacuated by helicopters while the rest stayed aboard as tug boats took the ship to port Sunday, as reported by The Associated Press. Viking Ocean Cruises told media at least 20 out of 1,373 people on board were injured.
Other passengers told Associated Press their accounts of a “very, very frightening” emergency, in which the ship came about the length of a football field from hitting rocks.”