Transcript: Where Is George Smith?
This is a partial transcript from "On the Record," December 13, 2005, that has been edited for clarity.
GRETA VAN SUSTEREN, HOST: We have new information about George Smith IV, a honeymooner who vanished from a Mediterranean cruise this summer. His body has not been found, but blood was reportedly discovered near his cabin. Members of his family testified before Congress today, and they are planning to sue Royal Caribbean cruise line.
We spoke with George Smith's mother, father, sister and their lawyer.
(BEGIN VIDEO CLIP)
When did you first find out your son was missing?
MAUREEN SMITH, SON VANISHED FROM CRUISE SHIP: On the morning of July 5, I had a call from Jennifer Hagel's father, telling me that there'd been a tragic accident, a terrible accident, something terrible had happened to Georgie. And it was 6:30 in the morning of July 5.
VAN SUSTEREN: At the time, did you think it could possibly have evolved into where you have no information?
MAUREEN SMITH: No. You never think that. I just thought that maybe, you know, they were having a party and he was missing on the ship. It was a big ship. I never thought for one minute that this would have been this.
VAN SUSTEREN: When, Bree, did you see your brother last? He had just gotten married. Were you at the wedding?
BREE SMITH, BROTHER VANISHED FROM CRUISE SHIP: Yes. I was at the wedding, and the day after the wedding, my mother had sort of a farewell luncheon for them, and that's the last time I saw George. And he was so excited to go off on his honeymoon. He had planned it really carefully. And Greece was his favor place in the world and he couldn't wait to get there.
VAN SUSTEREN: Whose idea was it to do the cruise? I mean, was this sort of a love of his or of his bride's?
BREE SMITH: Well, we actually had been on quite a few cruises together as a family. And my family — my parents, myself and my brother — had gone on almost the identical cruise, a Royal Caribbean cruise again, in 2001 with basically the same itinerary. Never before in the past had we realized that there's a sinister underworld to the cruise industry, and I think that that was the problem. My brother let his guard down. He maybe had a few drinks, and someone or some people took advantage of him.
VAN SUSTEREN: George, I suppose you've seen other stories where children disappeared. Did you ever realize, you know, the real impact of what it does on a family?
GEORGE SMITH III, SON DISAPPEARED ON CRUISE: You know, you never really think that it could happen to your family. You know, you see it on TV and you feel so sorry for that family, and you just can't believe that one day, it could be your family. It's really sad.
VAN SUSTEREN: George, when your family got that phone call, what did the family do?
GEORGE SMITH III: Basically, we were in shock. We just thought it couldn't have happened, that you know, it was maybe George was just lost, and you know, they would find him within an hour or two, and we hoped that, you know, everything would just go away. It was just, you know, he got lost on the boat.
VAN SUSTEREN: Maureen, so I guess you sat next to the phone, waiting for the next phone call?
MAUREEN SMITH: Yes. I sat down. I waited and waited. We had a little family in the house staying from England, and they all said, Oh, they'll find him. They'll find him. And it just went from day to day, and we hardly got any news from Royal Caribbean, did we, hardly any from...
BREE SMITH: No, none.
MAUREEN SMITH: None at all.
BREE SMITH: No news, no news. We were never informed that there was an investigation by the Turkish authorities or, you know, that there was blood in the room or there were suspicious circumstances. No news. No news. That's all we heard.
VAN SUSTEREN: And so at any point, did you or any member of the family go over to the region to investigate yourselves?
MAUREEN SMITH: My husband and I, we took off, I think, after about five or six days and we flew to Athens and we went to the American embassy. We met with the American ambassador — they helped us so much. And then we had a help of the consular there. He went with us to Samos, which is a small island in Greece. And the Coast Guard took us out to where they believed my son, George, the accident would have — accident, whatever, murder — would have taken place. And he really helped us a lot. They were marvelous out there to us.
VAN SUSTEREN: You're convinced it's a murder, this is not an accident.
MAUREEN SMITH: Yes, I am absolutely convinced it's a murder.
VAN SUSTEREN: Based on what?
MAUREEN SMITH: Based on the evidence, the blood, the blood everywhere and...
BREE SMITH: ... the fact that the FBI is still very actively investigating over five months later and spending millions of dollars on this investigation.
MAUREEN SMITH: Right.
VAN SUSTEREN: Brett, oftentimes, families don't get the answers from people, so they go to lawyers and they bring lawsuits, they bring civil lawsuits. The family is either planning on doing it — but that's your job. Tell me what you are plan is.
BRETT RIVKIND, SMITH FAMILY ATTORNEY: Our plan is to file a civil action and start conducting discovery right away, Greta. We're going to take depositions. We're going to ask for specific evidence. And we're going to ask very direct questions that we want answers to, that we should have received answers from day one. At least, the family should have. Somebody from that company should have been with that family from day one, giving them the answers to the questions we're going to start asking in this civil action, Greta.
VAN SUSTEREN: You know, Brett, and I don't know the cruise industry business, but it seems to me that they probably have a lot of surveillance cameras all over those ships. Do you know if they have surveillance cameras? Was there ever any discussion about whether there's tapes or anything? Because I imagine they monitor a lot of the activity there.
RIVKIND: Our understanding is yes. And I've been litigating against the cruise lines now for about 23 years, Greta, they do have surveillance cameras. There's been some question about the quality of them. But they do have them, and we're waiting to find out what those tapes do reveal. They don't have them in all the areas, but we believe they have them in the public areas, probably in the casino, hopefully, in the hallways. And hopefully, those films will reveal a lot of information, Greta.
VAN SUSTEREN: George, what's your thought about the cruise industry? I mean, I know what your daughter's view is.
GEORGE SMITH III: To be honest with you, I think it's been a big cover-up of one crime after another. When somebody gets in trouble and if they complain to the cruise industry, and if the cruise industry can't shame them into being quiet, usually, they'll reach into their pocket and pay them off. And this is why the statistics are so small, because if you get paid off and you sign the contract that you're not going to report this crime, the FBI doesn't know about it.
VAN SUSTEREN: Bree, was there any effort by the cruise company to talk to you or talk your family?
BREE SMITH: Well, before I broke off communication with them, there was, on average, one call a day and no news. We actually found out...
VAN SUSTEREN: ... one phone call a day for about how long?
BREE SMITH: I broke off communication after three days because, as you've probably seen on the television, one of the persons of interest that was interviewed by the Turkish authorities implicated a crew member. And at that point, I realized there was a possible conflict of interest with Royal Caribbean, and I broke off communication with that company.
VAN SUSTEREN: You're a lawyer.
BREE SMITH: I am a lawyer, yes.
VAN SUSTEREN: So that obviously grabbed your attention.
BREE SMITH: Yes. Yes.
(END VIDEO CLIP)
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