New York: As the US Coast Guard suspended its search for a 35-year-old Brazilian man who fell from a cruise ship, his lawyer started pointing fingers.
The Royal Caribbean Cruises ship Oasis of the Seas reported the man missing in the early hours of Friday, saying in a statement that crew members saw him “intentionally going over the side of the ship”.
But a lawyer for his family, Michael Winkleman, told NBC a different story.
Mr Winkleman said Bernardo Elbaz was victim of an altercation that started with anti-gay comments directed at him by crew members.
”It was not a suicide,” Mr Winkleman told the TV station. “Bernardo did not jump.”
A video posted on YouTube and later removed appeared to show passengers on the ship calling to a man in shorts holding on to a lifeboat support bracket, as the ship moved swiftly through the sea at night.
“Because of you, this happened … Let go of me! Get off of me!” he shouted in English, before seeming to lose his grip and fall into the ocean out of view.
The NBC reported the anti-gay remarks – including saying “Hi, lipstick” – were made by staff against Elbaz and his husband Eric. The couple were legally married last year in New York State, it said.
The lawyer said the altercation escalated and moved on to the couple’s cabin.
“As a result of an altercation in his cabin, Bernardo ends up somehow falling off his balcony onto the life boat area,” Mr Winkleman said.
US media said Royal Caribbean issued a statement denying the allegations.
The US Coast Guard searched by airplane and helicopter throughout Friday covering an area of 2400 square kilometres.
“We would like to extend our deepest condolences to the loved ones and all that have been affected by this tragedy,” said Captain Todd Coggeshall, chief of response management for the Coast Guard 7th District.
Two small boats were also launched to search for the man who was last seen wearing a pink shirt and white shorts, according to the Coast Guard.
The Oasis of the Seas can carry more than 5000 passengers and has a crew of nearly 2400.
Author: Joseph Ax
Poseted November 9, 2015 via smh.com.au