Broward News

Video Shows Bernardo Elbaz Arguing With Royal Caribbean Security Before Falling Overboard

The attorney for the husband of Bernardo Elbaz has released video that shows the 35-year-old falling into the ocean from a ship balcony moments after arguing with staff security of Royal Caribbean’s Oasis of the Seas last week. Miami-based attorney Michael Winkleman says the video shows that Elbaz did not intentionally jump, as authorities claim he did.

"Bernardo merely threatened to jump from the ship because of repeated anti-gay bullying by Royal Caribbean crew," Winkleman said via a statement. 

According to Broward Sheriff’s Office homicide detectives, Elbaz jumped off the ship's balcony into the sea about 17 miles off Turks and Caicos last Friday evening. According to BSO, the ship’s security responded to Elbaz and his husband's cabin regarding what they're calling a domestic disturbance between the two. Security found evidence of a physical altercation in the couple’s room, BSO says.

Homicide detectives reviewed video of the men speaking with security and of Elbaz saying he was planning to jump overboard. In the recording, Elbaz can be seen running toward the balcony alone. The video also shows Elbaz's husband run after him, followed by the ship’s security staff.

BSO officer Gina Carter tells New Times that, since this is a missing persons case, Elbaz's investigation remains open. 

According to various reports, the two men had complained that they were victims of homophobic slurs from the ship's staff as they were lounging poolside earlier that day. 

A video shot by Elbaz on his cell phone inside his room shows him speaking with two security personnel in which he tells the men, "I have a husband; I’m not a pedophile."

During one moment, which is blacked out per family request, Elbaz is heard saying, "Because of this, I am throwing myself."

Winkleman says Elbaz was pointing at security personnel as he said this.

It was after that video was shot that Elbaz ran to the balcony.

Another video showing Elbaz falling off the balcony into the ocean was shot by a passenger.

According to the BSO report, Elbaz jumped from his seventh-floor balcony and struck the metal support for a lifeboat on the fifth floor. Elbaz then clung to the ship as staff members tried to rescue him before falling into the water below.

Moments after he fell, Elbaz's husband, Erik, could be heard yelling out, "What have you done to him? What have you done? You murdered him!"

He's then heard making a phone call.

"Bernardo fell overboard," he says. "They killed him. They pushed him overboard."

A statement released by Royal Caribbean on Wednesday says that security guards did not have a physical altercation with Elbaz, nor could they prevent him from falling overboard.

"Our onboard security team responded to the guest’s stateroom after a neighboring guest complained about a domestic dispute on the guest’s balcony," the statement reads. "Our staff did not have a physical altercation with the guest and were unable to prevent his jumping from the stateroom balcony. 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. Royal Caribbean is deeply saddened by this event. We will continue to provide assistance to the family as well as law enforcement."

But Winkleman disputes the cruise ship's stance.

"Royal Caribbean says this was a domestic dispute and a suicide," he said in a news conference Wednesday. "It was anything but that."

Winkleman added that the ship's crew acted negligently and that they had plenty of time to rescue Elbaz from the metal support he was clinging to.

After he fell into the ocean, the cruise ship dispatched two search boats and called the Coast Guard, which sent a C-130 plane to look for Elbaz. An MH-60 helicopter also joined in on the search. Elbaz's body has yet to be found.

The Oasis of the Seas returned to Port Everglades on Saturday, where it remains. 
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Chris Joseph
Contact: Chris Joseph