Gay man Bernardo Elbaz jumped to his death off a cruise ship balcony because the Royal Caribbean Oasis of the Seas staff and guests were mean to him, family attorney claims. Attorney Michael Winkleman claims gay slurs prompted Elbaz to jump overboard and but says the 35-year-old man did not commit suicide. The family is considering suing the cruise line over the death.
Michael Winkleman previously claimed that Bernardo Elbaz had fallen over the stateroom balcony on his Royal Caribbean Oasis of the Seas room. The death occurred last Friday around 1 a.m. Before falling overboard and into the water, Elbaz clung to a lifeboat he had landed on after jumping from the balcony, according to videos and photos shared by the Daily Mail.
— Jorge Hernández (@JHernandezU23) November 9, 2015
The attorney representing the Elbaz family claims that the gay man jumped and ultimately fell to his death because he had been “mistreated” by staff and guests. A view from the deceased’s room recorded just moments before he jumps over the balcony, shows Bernardo arguing with Royal Caribbean Cruise staff.
Winkleman claims the Oasis of the Seas employees made homophobic comments at Elbaz.
“I have a husband, I’m not a pedophile,” Elbaz said before running to the balcony and jumping overboard — with his partner and security guards chasing behind him in what appears to be an effort to stop him.
On Monday, Erik Elbaz, the husband of the deceased, initially claimed his partner did not jump off the balcony. The details of Erik’s account changed on Tuesday after homicide detectives reviewed the video captured on Bernardo’s cell phone.
Both Royal Caribbean and law enforcement investigators say Elbaz jumped off the balcony not because of gay slurs or homophobia by staff and guests, but due to a domestic dispute with Erik.
Eric Elbez husband of cruise ship passenger Bernardo Elbaz preparing to speak publicly. pic.twitter.com/wfM537pHcV
— Amy Viteri (@TVAmyViteri) November 9, 2015
“This was not a domestic dispute, this was not a suicide,” Winkleman said during an interview with NBC Miami. “This was an act of protest based on the way that this legally gay, legally married couple was mistreated by Royal Caribbean.”
The now-viral video of Bernardo Elbaz jumping from the balcony shows a heated conversation with two cruise ship security guards. Guests in neighboring staterooms reportedly called for security due to arguing going on between the same-sex couple.
Bernardo Elbaz jumps off balcony of Royal Caribbean Cruise Ship Video
When the Royal Caribbean Cruise ship security guards entered the room, the men reportedly found evidence that a physical altercation had occurred between the gay couple. The attorney maintains that both a lamp and a table had been thrown in anger over the alleged gay slurs which had Erik Elbaz and Bernardo Elbaz say happened earlier in the evening.
According to Erik, the two men had dinner together Thursday evening, and then Bernardo went to the bar while he returned to their Oasis of the Seas stateroom. While at the bar, Bernardo said he was taunted by gay slurs and was called a pedophile and “lipstick” by others on the ship.
The alleged gay slurs led to some type of physical altercation or fight, according to the maritime attorney representing the family. Bernardo became upset because the incident was not the first time he had been “verbally attacked” on the Royal Caribbean cruise, his husband alleges. The yelling heard by neighboring guests was not part of a domestic dispute, but due to relaying angst over the comments in the bar.
“Our ship’s security officers responded to reports of domestic dispute loud enough to be heard from several staterooms away. 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 officers were not in the room when the guest chose to jump off his balcony.”
After jumping off the cruise ship balcony, Elbaz is shown hanging onto a beam which supports a lifeboat. The Oasis of the Seas reportedly stopped immediately after the man went overboard and rescue protocols were enacted and the Coast Guard called in to help. The search for the body by the Coast Guard has now been called off.
The cruise ship was about 17 miles from Turks and Caicos and headed to Florida at the time of the incident. Bernardo and Erik live in New York City, and had married a year ago. The cruise was part of a birthday celebration for Erik Elbaz.
[Image via NAN728 / Shutterstock.com]