MOBILE, Ala. - A Johns Creek family is mourning a man with autism who is presumed dead after apparently jumping off a Carnival Cruise Line ship earlier this week.
Luke Renner, 22, graduated from Chattahoochee High School. He disappeared from a ship traveling from Alabama to the western Caribbean after climbing over a deck rail, the company said.
Channel 2's Mike Petchenick spoke to Renner's caregiver, who had worked with him since he was just 14 years old.
"He was just a sweet Christian boy and was always trying to please his mother," Stacy Georges said. "Everything he did, he did with gusto."
Renner lived in a group home with other people with autism set up by Gwinnett-based nonprofit Wishes 4 Me. Several members of his community went on the cruise last week with chaperones. He disappeared Saturday.
"I was hoping that maybe he was hiding somewhere," Georges said.
Investigators now say Renner jumped overboard.
Family members told investigators that they believe Renner probably thought he could go for a swim when he climbed over the railing.
"I'm so sad that this happened to them," Georges said. "I just keep trying to think that he has peace and hopefully the last moments of his life were in excitement that he thought he was doing something fun."
Georges remembers Renner as goofy and social.
"He would just joke. He'd find something funny and we'd just repeat it all day," Georges said. "I loved doing that with him."
A statement released by the family also describes Renner as a sweet young man who loved a good joke.
"Luke was a light in our lives, funny, unusual, and, for a child with autism, loving and affectionate. He was our boy," the statement read. "Luke is with Jesus now, jumping up and down, and he can express himself clearly and be understood. No more seizures, no more meds. We can't wait to talk to him. We truly believes he knows he was well-loved."
Renner's family said through their spokesman that they are not angry at his chaperones.
"Though we are devastated by his death, we are thankful he was there with people he loved and trusted when he died," they said in a statement. "We are confident Wishes 4 Me watched over him with the upmost care and we do not hold them in any way responsible."
The family spokesperson said the cruise line has been supportive and the family is deciding what their next step will be.
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