Report: Not Suicide for Overboard Cruise Passenger, Anti-Gay Remarks Led to Fatal Fall
Photo via YouTube
One tragic death, two sides to the story.
The initial narrative, that a 35-year-old Brazilian cruise passenger deliberately leaped off the Royal Caribbean Oasis of the Seas — which the company stated in a press release — is being countered by a lawyer representing the family of Bernardo Elbaz, NBC Miami reported.
"It was not a suicide," said attorney Michael Winkleman, per NBC. "Bernardo did not jump."
Winkleman asserted it was “anti-gay remarks” from crewmembers that led to the moment, caught by cellphone video, of Elbaz clinging to a lifeboat davit before plunging into the sea, NBC said.
Elbaz was on board with his husband Eric, who he legally married in New York State a year ago, when, as Winkleman said, ship staff repeatedly made discriminatory remarks to the couple, including "Hi, lipstick."
Then, while Elbaz was at one of the ship’s bars, he was subjected to another anti-gay comment from a crewmember, which led to a "huge altercation," Winkleman said, according to NBC.
"He ended up in his cabin where he is furious and ultimately Royal Caribbean security comes on the scene," Winkleman continued, per NBC. "As a result of an altercation in his cabin, Bernardo ends up somehow falling off his balcony onto the life boat area."
In the passenger video, this moment is captured, with Elbaz’s husband Eric yelling at the security guards while Elbaz hangs on, Winkleman said. The attorney added that the family wants Elbaz found, NBC said.
"(The U.S. Coast Guard) did find a body matching the description of Bernardo that was spotted by an airplane but they were not able to recover the body," Winkleman said.
Royal Caribbean is sticking to the original story, per a follow-up statement via NBC. "Our onboard security team responded to the guest's stateroom after a neighboring guest complained about a domestic dispute on the guest's balcony," the statement said. "Our staff did not have a physical altercation with the guest and were unable to prevent his jumping from the stateroom balcony."
"Royal Caribbean is deeply saddened by this event,” the statement added. “We will continue to provide assistance to the family as well as law enforcement."
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