BERNARDO ELBAZ FELL TO HIS DEATH, AFTER BEING OVERSERVED ALCOHOL AND AN ALTERCATION WITH ROYAL CARIBBEAN CREWMEMBERS RESULTING FROM ANTI-GAY SLURS
The victim and his husband, Eric, who had been married for a year, went on the cruise in celebration of Eric’s birthday. On Friday, at around 1 AM, Bernardo fell from his balcony stateroom. The Coast Guard was notified immediately to begin searching for the victim. However, after performing a search of the area, the Coast Guard called off the rescue mission on Saturday. The victim’s body has not yet been recovered.
There have been several versions of the story so far. According to Royal Caribbean, Bernardo had a domestic dispute and “intentionally” jumped to his death. However, our maritime attorneys have disputed these allegations.
“Royal Caribbean says this was a domestic dispute and a suicide, saying that he jumped. That was anything but the case,” said Michael Winkleman, one of our maritime lawyers who are representing the case.
Earlier during sailing, Bernardo was at the Solarium bar where he was subjected to anti-gay slurs.
“At the bar there were comments like, ‘Hey, Lipstick,’” added attorney Winkleman. “Bernardo was sensitive about those issues.”
He was particularly upset after being called a pedophile, which is a heinous statement. Being from Brazil, which is horribly anti-gay, he grew up in a challenging environment as a gay man. Being treated in a similar fashion on the ship – while being over served alcohol – created a deadly series of events.
Bernardo, who was livid at this point, got into an altercation with the crew members before walking back to his stateroom completely distraught. Crew members may have followed Bernardo, and the argument continued. Security was later called to the couple’s stateroom, which only served to upset Bernardo further.
Royal Caribbean claims that none of its crew member made any anti-gay remarks, but this wouldn’t be the first time a cruise line has tried to cover-up cruise ship disappearances or the wrongful actions of its crew. There are reportedly other instances of anti-gay remarks made by crew against gay passengers.
The Broward County Sheriff’s office, which is investigating the matter, also claims that the victim committed suicide. However they haven’t covered the entire extent of the events that transpired that night.
“The Broward Sheriff’s office announcement is incomplete and not correct,” added attorney Winkleman. “There is a video that has not been released, that shows much more detail.”
The unreleased video will show that Royal Caribbean’s knee-jerk reaction in claiming a domestic dispute and suicide is not correct. The whole story has not been told, only Royal Caribbean’s version, which is designed to protect them from liability for the death.
The case remains under investigation. However, footage taken by other travelers captures the terrifying moments leading up to the overboard accident. Footage shows Bernardo clinging to a lifeboat for his life before losing his grip and falling into the ocean. Given that suicide is an action that requires intent, how does Royal Caribbean explain the victim clutching onto the lifeboat in what appears to be a desperate attempt to avoid falling into the ocean? Royal Caribbean had many minutes to affect a rescue and save Bernardo’s life. They failed to immediately secure him to the vessel when there was more than enough time to do so.
When the full story comes out, including the videos before the fall, it will be shown that Royal Caribbean overserved alcohol for their own profit, had a culture that allowed the crew to taunt passengers with hateful anti gay remarks, and failed to effect a proper rescue.