The husband of a gay cruise passenger who died after he plunged into the water is calling it an anti-gay hate crime, even though all signs point to suicide.
Bernardo Albaz, 35, was seen on video dangling from the lifeboat area of Royal Caribbean‘s Oasis of the Sea cruise ship as crew workers held on to him. ( Editor’s note: The spelling of the passenger’s name has not been confirmed as some sources report it as “Albaz” while others have reported it to be “Elbaz”)
Eventually Albaz pulled free from them and plunged to his death after he shouted “Because of you, this happened. Let go of me! Get off of me!”
Enter a lawyer who smells a lawsuit.
“It was not a suicide,” Mike Winkleman, the Albaz family attorney said, according to WPTV despite the video evidence of him pulling away from rescuers. “Bernardo did not jump.”
Winkleman said Albaz and his husband Eric were victims of anti-gay bullying aboard the ship, according to CBS 4 Miami.
“This was a married gay couple that were on Royal Caribbean cruise and throughout the cruise there were anti-gay remarks crew members were making against them,” Winkleman said.
He told CBS 4 the abuse culminated with an incident at one of the ship’s bars Thursday night.
“Bernardo ended up getting in a huge altercation and ended up in his cabin where he is furious and ultimately Royal Caribbean security came to the scene,” Winkleman added. “As a result of the altercation in his cabin Bernardo falls off his balcony onto the life boat area.”
The cruise line however, said the suicide was a result of a domestic dispute and several passengers corroborated that story according to CBS 4.
“There were a lot of speculation that it was domestic dispute,” one passenger told the station.
“Someone had jumped off because of a domestic dispute,” another added.
“We heard there was a domestic problem,” a third passenger said.
Winkleman, however, isn’t buying it.
“There was no jump, there was no domestic dispute,” Winkleman said before adding that staff should have done more to save Albaz.
“If Royal Caribbean was on the scene when this was happening, why didn’t they rescue him, why wasn’t more done, why wasn’t a life ring given to him,” he asked.
Royal Caribbean released a statement expressing its sympathy for the family of Albaz but maintaining that he committed suicide.
Our onboard security team responded to the guest’s stateroom after a neighboring guest complained about a domestic dispute on the guest’s balcony. Our staff did not have a physical altercation with the guest and were unable to prevent his jumping from the stateroom balcony.
Royal Caribbean is deeply saddened by this event. We will continue to provide assistance to the family as well as law enforcement.
Watch the harrowing footage of the incident below.
**WARNING – Video contains footage some viewers might find distressing.**
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