PORT MIAMI, Fla. (WSVN) – The family of a New York man who went overboard while on a Caribbean cruise is asking for answers as a South Florida agency begins investigating Friday's tragic incident.
Cellphone video captured the gut-wrenching moments before and after 35-year-old Bernardo Albaz fell to his death after ending up clinging to dear life on the side of the Oasis of the Seas.
"You murdered him. You murdered him!" the victim's husband, Eric Albaz, is heard saying when the man went overboard.
These moments, and what led up to them, are now the center of an investigation by the Broward Sheriff's Office's (BSO) homicide department. "Eric, the surviving husband, my client, who would be here today, he was in my office moments ago, but he was called by the BSO," the Albazes' attorney, Michael Winkleman, told 7News on Saturday.
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"He was required to go back to Port Everglades, where the Oasis of the Seas' home port is, in order to obtain some critical evidence regarding the case," said Winkleman.
That alleged critical evidence is what Winkleman hopes sets the record straight about what happened the night Bernardo plummeted to his death. The attorney said the chain of events was triggered because of anti-gay remarks made to the couple. "[They were] saying things like, 'Hi, lipstick,' and repeatedly saying it over and over to them," said Winkleman.
Winkleman said Albaz, who went on the cruise to celebrate his husband's birthday, was livid by the comments, and eventually an altercation broke out between him and Royal Caribbean staff, something that occurred after a night of drinking.
"The surviving husband, Eric, was not there at the time. He had gone back to the room to rest," said Winkleman.
The lawyer said first there was an altercation at the Solarium Bar and, once back in the room with his husband, security personnel shows up and another scuffle allegedly broke out between Albaz and the employees.
"There was an altercation in the room involving Royal Caribbean security. He fell overboard, and Royal Caribbean was right there on the scene as he fell in," said Winkleman.
Cruise line officials painted a different picture, originally saying Albaz intentionally jumped off the ship. They released a statement to 7News on Saturday that read in part, "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."
The U.S. Coast Guard suspended their search for Albaz on Saturday. Other than confirming an investigation is underway, Broward Sheriff's Office officials declined to comment on the case.
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