During a recent Royal Caribbean cruise vacation, a Brazilian man went overboard from the cruise ship the Oasis of the Seas. Initial reports claimed that Bernardo Elbaz, who is also known as Garcia Teixeira, “intentionally” went over the side of the ship, but lawyers for the gay man’s husband, Eric Elbaz, claims these allegations are false. The Broward Sheriff’s Office investigated the incident, and they claim video evidence proves the man threatened to jump after being insulted by gay slurs.
In a related report by the Inquisitr, the Bernardo Elbaz video shows the man clinging to an Oasis of the Seas lifeboat for about a minute before falling overboard into the ocean. The parents of Reddit user Charles Purcell were on the Royal Caribbean cruise ship, and he related what witnesses saw.
“My parents are actually on this cruise. They texted me this morning saying the ship is at a dead stop pending rescue and investigation by the Coast Guard. Rumors around the ship are that family fighting and alcohol were involved. He jumped from the 7th deck of the boat around 1am, falling on the lifeboat below. As seen in the video, he was hanging from the lifeboat, alive but injured (blood on the lifeboat) before falling overboard. Pretty traumatic situation.”
Other passengers near the seventh deck attempted to help Bernardo Elbaz as his husband cried for help.
“Hold on to him! Don’t let him go!” Eric Elbaz screamed in the videos. “My husband! Oh my God! Hold on to him!”
The U.S. Coast Guard had searched 931 square nautical miles before the rescue effort was suspended. The body was never found. It is reported that the man went overboard during the Royal Caribbean cruise when the ship was approximately 17 miles east of the Turks and Caicos Islands.
Initial reports painted the man as suicidal, but Miami attorney Michael Winkleman disputes these claims. The lawyer also said that Bernardo Elbaz’s name is actually Garcia Teixeira.
“It was not a suicide,” Winkleman claimed. “Bernardo did not jump.”
Instead, the lawyer says the man went overboard from the Oasis of the Seas after a fight with the security team on the Royal Caribbean cruise. The alleged altercation was supposedly initiated after crew members insulted the gay man.
“At the bar there were comments like, ‘Hey, Lipstick,'” said Winkleman. “Bernardo was sensitive about those issues. “[Bernardo was] definitely inebriated, crying, swearing at crew members who may have followed him. He was so angry he threw a lamp, a chair.”
Royal Caribbean cruise officials disagree with the lawyer’s assertions, although they do say that security staff responded “to reports of a domestic dispute loud enough to be heard from several staterooms away.” The company also claims the security officers were not in the stateroom when the man “jumped” from the balcony.
“The room was in a state of disarray, and both lamps in the room had been broken. Our officers interviewed the guests separately about their dispute, as is standard procedure,” the Royal Caribbean company said in a statement. “The [security] officers were not in the room when the guest chose to jump off his balcony.”
On Monday, Eric Elbaz denied reports of a domestic dispute and reiterated that his husband was not suicidal. According to the Sun Sentinel, Winkleman says the gay couple turned on a video recording device within their stateroom before security arrived. In this video, Bernardo Elbaz is shown pointing at the security officers before saying, “Because of them, I am throwing myself over.” The video also shows Royal Caribbean security being present in the room.
The Broward Sheriff’s Office reviewed this video evidence and released this statement.
“Upon arriving, security personnel found evidence of a physical altercation in the couple’s room,” the Sheriff’s Office said. “Homicide detectives reviewed video evidence of the couple’s interactions with the ship’s security in which the victim can be heard declaring that he was planning to jump overboard. In the recording, Garcia Teixeira can be seen running toward the balcony alone. The video also shows Elbaz run after Garcia Teixeira, followed by the ship’s security staff.”
In a new statement, the Royal Caribbean cruise company denies any wrongdoing by crew members.
“Our officers responded professionally and appropriately to the incident in the stateroom,” the statement said. “In addition, other security officers and crew risked their own lives in an attempt to rescue the guest from the lifeboat rigging where he had fallen.”
During a news conference, Winkleman disputed the claim that Bernardo Elbaz jumped from the cruise ship, although the lawyer also said it is “still to be determined” how the man fell overboard from the Oasis of the Seas.
“It is surprising how inaccurate and how incomplete the BSO statement is,” said Winkleman. “It is clear that this was not a domestic dispute, but a direct result of repeated gay comments.”
Gina Carter, a Sheriff’s Office spokeswoman, said the Garcia Teixeira video will not be released.
[Image via Eric Elbaz/YouTube]