Cruise Passenger S.O.S.

Woman Found in Cruise Maintenance Shaft After Two Months


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Lipcon, Margulies & Winkleman, P.A. is comprised of attorneys that are nationally-recognized industry leaders in the field of maritime and admiralty law. Our team of lawyers has over a century of combined experience, has successfully handled over 3,000 cases, and has recovered over 300 million dollars in damages for our clients.

sardinia ferry boat TIRRENIAIt’s safe to say that a cruise is not an everyday experience. Given the luxurious and time-consuming nature of these adventures, they are typically reserved for a special occasion. For many, they may be celebrating a birthday, anniversary, or other major life event. Suffice it to say, cruises have earned their place as a once-in-a-lifetime opportunity, for many. So, it only makes sense that you would want and expect it to go off without any problems.

However, every maritime attorney knows that most things do not work out exactly as planned. And, unfortunately, cruises often fall into this category. Despite your best efforts to plan a safe, fun and memorable cruise, sometimes accidents happen when you least expect them.

Whether it’s improper safety procedures or poorly trained staff, we have heard countless reasons for accidents and injuries aboard cruise ships. A recent story out of England reminds us of this fact.

Two months ago, a German couple, Ernst and Imelda Bechstein, had been traveling aboard the Tirrenia ferry, Sharden, from Porto Torres in Sardinia back to Genoa. The two sat down on sleeping chairs. But, when Mr. Bechstein woke up, he discovered that his wife was missing.

Immediately, he searched the ship. When he could not find his wife, he alerted the crew. According to reports, the captain ordered a search of the entire ship. However, Mrs. Bechstein was nowhere to be found.

After weeks of speculation as to what may have happened, her body has been found in the crew’s maintenance shaft. An autopsy has ruled out foul play, as it reveals she died the night after she vanished and had no other signs of violence on her body, other than those sustained from her fall down the shaft.

It is unclear as to how she managed to enter the shaft. While her husband explained that she had a tendency to become disoriented, that still does not justify why the maintenance shaft was accessible to the public.

Currently, Mrs. Bechstein’s body is being held in Genoa, until it is approved for release back to her husband in Munich.

We send our deepest condolences to Mr. Bechstein and his family, as they deal with this tragic event.

Passenger Safety Should Come First

In the wake of this death, however, we are puzzled. How could a passenger have stumbled into a maintenance shaft? What kind of search was really done aboard the ship? And could she have survived the fall, if she had been found in a timely fashion?

We feel strongly that every cruise line should place their passengers’ safety as a top priority. Unfortunately, in this situation, it seems that there was a lapse, both in preventative safety measures and rescue efforts.

Although no one should have to die aboard their cruise, we hope that the cruise line will take this situation seriously and look into ways that they can increase passenger safety, and avoid finding themselves in this same situation in the future.

If you or someone you care about has been injured aboard a cruise, you can rest assured that we are here to help. We have successfully handled a wide variety of landmark cases and are ready to fight for you. So, do not hesitate to contact us.

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