Transatlantic Cruise Turns Deadly for 87 Year Old Brazilian Passenger

Newspapers in Brazil are reporting on the recent death of a cruise passenger on a MSC cruise ship.

MSC PreziosaMercedes Lessi Raia, age 87, was cruising on the MSC Preziosa cruise ship when she sustained a fall on a set of stairs.  The ship was sailing around Europe on Tuesday, November 19, 2013. The accident is described as occurring when she was headed to the restaurant where dinner would be served. As the elevators were full, she decided to go down the stairs where she tripped, fell and struck her head. She sustained a hematoma and began to vomit. 12 hours later she died, on November 20th.

According to newspaper articles, Ms. Raia accomplished a lifelong dream of cruising through Europe with her two daughters. At the time of the accident, the cruise ship was returning to Brazil from Spain. She lived in Londrina in the state of Paraná, Brazil and spent her time divided between the city and the São Paulo coast.

Her son told reporters that this mother was a "very cheerful person, with an impressive vitality, did not look her age and still dreamed of the sea cruise to Europe."  She always said she wanted to live to be 100 years old.

Mercedes Lessi RaiaHer son commented on the accident and lamented the ship did not have medical facilities for appropriate and urgent care. Her family was critical of the cruise ship's response, stating that the ship did not attempt to arrange for an emergency medevac operation. 

MSC responded to the tragedy by claiming that the fall was caused by a pre-existing illness.

We have seen cruise lines defend themselves in situations like this when they claim that a fall and resulting death were the result of the passenger's health and not a problem with the cruise ship or inadequate shipboard medical facilities. Even if true, such disclosures by a cruise line violate a passenger's confidential medical rights.

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Photo Credit: www.jb.com.br

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Comments (5) Read through and enter the discussion with the form at the end
Francieli - November 24, 2013 6:55 AM

Hi!
I had worked onboard for almost 3 years as a public relations, and I did the crossing (Brasil to Europe and vice-versa). In these case I believe it should be mandatory to have emergency medical assistance because the path is too long ... depending on the size of the ship, it may take more than 15 days.
It is also known that elderly people are often more likely to take some accident. Upon sale of the cruise, do not think about it. Very sad!

tinikini - November 24, 2013 2:06 PM

Cruise ship stairs are very strange. They are not like normal stairs and one must take caution on them whether they are 27 or 87. They are just flat dangerous.

My 75 year old mother almost fell down a flight on a HAL ship. She is in fine medical condition, had on flat shoes, she had not been drinking and we were heading to dinner. I decided I would go down first, then my mother and then my 81 year old father. I had on sky high heels and I had been drinking, but was not drunk. When my mother slipped she fell into me and of course my father fell into her and I had to brace both of them up with my arms on the railings, plus my back and butt to keep BOTH of them from falling down the entire set of stairs. I don't know how I held everyone up and no one was hurt, I have no idea, but someone was watching over us that night and we learned a valuable lesson. ALWAYS take the elevator.

The rest of the cruise all I did was babysit my parents and watch every move they made and never left them unattended. I came home exhausted and needed another vacation to relax, but I bought my parents their "trip of a lifetime", kept them safe, as any good daughter would, and that made it all worth it.

I am so sorry for this family. Things can happen so quickly and turn for the worst in a second, and for the cruise ship to say that she had a pre-existing condition, and that is why she fell, is just plain wrong. CRUISE SHIP STAIRS ARE DANGEROUS, AVOID THEM WHENEVER POSSIBLE.

Tony Austin - November 25, 2013 7:52 AM

I just thought to pause and comment. If a cruise liner is thought to be a floating 5 star city at sea, it should be mandatory for all liners also to have a hospital with 5 star facilities and doctors for the health and safety of their clients rather than being left at the mercy of destiny.

Brian - November 25, 2013 9:43 AM

This particular incident seems like a terrible accident. I agree it is not good for the cruise line to blame the customer. I also think that your implication that the cruise line was at fault without presenting any evidence is wrong as well. Your reaction and reporting likely helps the cruise line go on the defensive immediately as well.

Accidents happen. You cannot eliminate all of them. This particular incident would have been a great opportunity for this website to show it has some common sense to its positions. But to immediately imply the cruise line is at fault and responded horribly in this case, along with that same tone on most stories, helps to make me suspicious of all the reporting on the site and the overall purpose.
I believe the cruise lines give you plenty of “real” issues and evidence to report and present their inadequate response or action to situations. So much that you do not need to embellish an accident like this unless a cruise employee pushed her. But to blame the cruise lines relentlessly when not necessary reflects poorly on you.

I cruise often. I enjoy this website. I wish I could be more confident that your approach and reporting was more fact based rather than the continuous hammering of the cruise lines.

Jim Walker - November 25, 2013 10:36 AM

Brian:

My article is based entirely on several newspaper articles published in Brazil. The criticism of MSC comes from the family. MSC decided to blame this nice lady who died on their ship due to alleged "pre-existing" medical conditions long before I wrote this article. That accusation is flat-out shameful. Its disgusting.

There is no blame in my article assigned to the cruise line for the fall. There is no information either way mentioned in the Brazilian articles. But when cruise lines start manufacturing "pre-existing" conditions as an explanation for an accident, it looks like they have something to hide.

MSC could have extended its condolences to the family. It could have announced that an independent investigation would take place. The results of an honest engineer about the slope of descent, the width and height of treads & risers, the design of the handrails, and the co-efficiency of friction of the step materials would be informative. MSC could also have released the CCTV of the fall. But it chose instead to release a bogus excuse.

The motto of this blog is "everything the cruise lines don't want you to know." That's where I'm coming from. You wouldn't have known about this incident unless I wrote about it. There are dozens and dozens of travel agent and cruise industry blogs that will never mention anything like this. They have lots of happy stories from a naive "common sense" perspective that will help you sleep well at night.

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