Smith Family Calls for Justice for George

WNEM reports that Senator Richard Blumenthal of Connecticut joined the family of George Smith to plead for a federal law to protect cruise passengers.

Senator Blumenthal and Senator Edward Markey of Massachusetts have introduced the Cruise Passenger Protection Act of 2015. WNEM says that the new law will:

  • Require vessels to integrate technology that can be used for capturing images of passengers and detecting passengers who have fallen overboard, to the extent that such technology is available.
  • Improve medical standards aboard cruise ships.
  • Require vessels to be staffed with an appropriate number of sea marshals, who have been certified by, and are operating under the jurisdiction of, the United States Coast Guard.
  • Establish the Department of Transportation (DOT) as the lead federal agency for consumer protection for cruise ship passengers, similar to the role the Department has in aviation consumer protection.
  • Give consumers a clear upfront summary of the restrictive terms and conditions in cruise contracts. The Secretary of Transportation would develop standards for the cruise lines to provide prospective passengers with a short summary of the key terms in the contract. Consumers would be able to read a plain language summary of the key rights and limitations that passengers have during their cruise so they are fully aware of what rights they have, and don't have, before they book their tickets.
  • Establish a consumer complaints toll-free hotline telephone number, give the DOT the authority to investigate complaints, and create an Advisory Committee for Passenger Vessel Consumer Protection, which would be charged with evaluating current consumer protections and generating recommendations for improvements.
  • Require the reporting of crimes against minors to the list of currently reported crime statistics.
  • Address crimes on cruise ships by strengthening video surveillance requirements in public areas, and setting requirements for the amount of time cruises lines must retain videos.
  • Establish a victim advocate to be the primary point of contact in assisting victims, including helping the victim to understand their rights in international waters, get access to appropriate law enforcement and consulate services, and have access to necessary victim support services.

  

WNEM TV 5

 

A Decade of Injustice: The George Smith Case

This weekend will mark 10 years since George Smith disappeared from Royal Caribbean's Brilliance of the Seas in the early morning hours of July 5, 2005. 

Mr. Smith was on a honeymoon cruise with his newlywed bride, Jennifer Hagel, who we later represented on behalf of Mr. Smith's estate against the cruise line over his disappearance.

I have written about this terrible tragedy many times, including writing a series of articles about some of George SmithCruise Mystery the details about the case. 

I have always thought that the case involved foul play, and that George Smith was tossed over-the-rails.

The case was mentioned routinely on television and cable news back in 2005-2006. We were interviewed on a regular basis. Royal Caribbean sent a slew of people to appear in the media like the former captain (whose opinions were ludicrous) as well as PR representatives, crisis communication experts and even the CEO of the cruise line. They tended to cast aspersions against Mr. Smith, or his bride, or both, or played dumb. They never ever produced videos in the cruise line's possession. 

What Royal Caribbean didn't disclose to the media back then was that it had a video recording of some of the other passengers who were last with Mr. Smith in his cabin early on the morning in question. After Mr. Smith's disappearance, the men were recorded mocking Mr. Smith. One of them then said: "we gave that guy a paragliding lesson without a parachute." This video was in the possession of the cruise line by the end of the cruise and, later, in the possession of the FBI which did not disclose it to any of the family members. It eventually became known to the Smith family only around 7 years after the incident.

The greatest mystery about this cruise line crime case is not what happened to George Smith; it's why the FBI shut its investigation down and why the Department of Justice didn't arrest those responsible long ago.

What do you think of the Captain's excuse that George Smith may have been smoking a cigar on the balcony and just lost his balance?

Have a comment? Please leave one below or join the discussion on our Facebook page

CBS is airing an episode on 48 Hours tomorrow night about the case. A preview is below:  

 

 

Connecticut FBI Closes Investigation into Disappearance of George Smith

The family of George Smith announced today that the Connecticut FBI notified their family that it is closing its investigation into Mr. Smith's George's death aboard the Royal Caribbean Brilliance of the Seas.

Mr. Smith disappeared during his honeymoon cruise in July 2005 under mysterious circumstances while the Royal Caribbean ship was sailing to Kusadasi, Turkey.  

The Smith family said on their Facebook page that "we were told by the Connecticut FBI that there was not enough evidence to prove that George had been murdered and that his death may have been the result of an accident!"

The FBI has a dismal record solving crimes at sea. In my opinion there was nothing accidental about Mr. Smith's disappearance.

The Smith family said that they intend to move the investigation into their son's disappearance to another jurisdiction, such as New York. They are offering a $100,000 reward for information leading to an arrest and conviction.

Have a comment?  Please leave one below or join the discussion on our Facebook page.

Video Credit: CBS News / 48 Hours  

Murder at Sea? CBS' 48 Hours Updates DIsappearance of George Smith From Brilliance of the Seas Nine Years Ago

Its been nine years since George Smith disappeared during his honeymoon cruise aboard the Royal Caribbean Brilliance of the Seas.

CBS focuses on new developments in the cruise ship mystery, in a 48 Hours story entitled "Murder at Sea?"

Its introduction says: a newlywed vanishes off the cruise ship where he was honeymooning - 9 years later, "48 Hours" reports on the renewed push to find out what happened to George Smith. 

You can watch the program below: 

The George Smith Case - Nine Years Later

George Smith DisappearanceTomorrow will be the nine year anniversary of the disappearance of George Smith from the Royal Caribbean Brilliance of the Seas during his honeymoon cruise. 

Mr. Smith went overboard from the Royal Caribbean cruise ship on July 5, 2005 as the ship was sailing to Turkey.

Suspicions have focused on several men who were in Mr. Smith's cabin before he went overboard, particularly after one of the men made incriminating statements. We have written many prior articles about the case which you can review here.

CBS will air an updated story of the efforts of Mr. Smith's family tomorrow night on 48 HOURS.  A preview is below. 

The Smith family has recently announced a $100,000 reward for information leading to the arrest and conviction of the person(s) responsible for his disappearance. 

 

If you have information about who may have killed Mr. Smith, please consider using the following contact information:

1 (844) 651 1936 

georgesmithtipline@gmail.com

Justice for George

Family of George Smith Supports New Cruise Safety Legislation

Over 8 years ago George Smith went overboard from the Royal Caribbean's Brilliance of the Seas cruise ship in the Aegean Sea during his honeymoon cruise.

By all accounts, Royal Caribbean covered the true circumstances of the crime up. In the process, this less-than-honest cruise line sparked a national interest in what really happens on cruise ships which continues today.  

George Smith Royal Caribbean DisappearanceA Congressional hearing was convened in December 2005 which focused the public on cruise ship crimes, disappearances at sea and how cruise lines like Royal Caribbean handle public relation nightmares like this.  

Seven Congressional hearings later, the topic of cruise ship crimes, missing cruise passengers and crew members, and cruise cover-ups continues.

Senator Rockefeller has introduced new legislation designed to require greater transparency from the cruise industry. Sponsoring the bill is Connecticut Senator Richard Blumenthal who has stated that he is committed to requiring accountability aboard cruise ships.   

The Greenwich Times reports today that "Family of Man Lost at Sea Backs Cruise Ship Bill." The Smith family states in a letter: "We have encountered nothing but obstacles from both Royal Caribbean and those individuals last seen with George on the cruise ship."

The time for a law requiring cruise lines to be honest is long overdue.

 

Photo Credit: Greenwich Time

When Will There Be Justice for George?

George Smith Cruise Ship DisappearanceIt has been eight years since George Smith disappeared from the Royal Caribbean Brilliance of the Seas in the early morning hours of July 4, 2005.

The cruise line initially stated that it had no idea what happened. But in 2012 it was revealed that Royal Caribbean took possession of a video shortly after the incident which implicated several men who were last seen with Mr. Smith. The video shows one of the men saying "we gave that guy a paragliding lesson without a parachute."

The FBI took possession of the video back in 2005 and did not reveal the contents to any of the families.

Seeking justice on the high seas when crimes occur is often a difficult task. The FBI has a poor record prosecuting crimes on cruise ships. It often seems that the FBI is more concerned with not embarrassing the cruise lines than obtaining justice for victims of crimes and their families.

The George Smith case is a good example of justice denied. But the case is still "open" and has been transferred from the FBI's office in Connecticut to the FBI office in New York. Say your prayers that there's an arrest and prosecution.

You can read a series of articles about Mr. Smith's disappearance here.

 

Photo Credit: CBS

The George Smith Cruise Ship Disappearance Case: Will the FBI Finally Make An Arrest?

News sources are reporting that the FBI office in New York will be reviewing file materials maintained by the FBI's office in Connecticut to determine whether arrests should be made regarding the disappearance and presumed death of cruise passenger George Smith.

George Smith vanished from Royal Caribbean's Brilliance of the Seas cruise ship in the early morning hours of July 5, 2005, leaving behind a pool of blood on a lifeboat awning below his cabin.

In the video below, you can finally see expressions of optimism from the Smith family that there may finally be an arrest in George's case. The Smith family is represented by attorney Mike Jones from Greenwich Connecticut.    

48 Hours Update: "New" Evidence in Disappearance of Cruise Passenger George Smith

Cruise Passenger George SmithSaturday night, CBS's "'48 Hours" will air what is being described as "important new evidence" in the mysterious disappearance of George Smith during his honeymoon cruise. The episode is called "48 Hours: Murder at Sea?"

You may recall that George Smith from the Greenwich Connecticut area was enjoying his honeymoon with his newly-wed bride Jennifer Hagel when he disappeared from the Royal Caribbean Brilliance of the Seas in the early morning hours of July 5, 2005, leaving a blood-stained awning behind him. 

The cruise line quickly concluded that Mr. Smith was intoxicated and must have been sitting on a balcony railing and fell overboard, and it reported this self-serving opinion as its official report to the flag state. Royal Caribbean ignored the fact that four young men were last seen in the Smith's cabin and that there were sounds of an argument and loud noises consistent with a struggle, followed by a resounding "thud" on the awning below.  

Gregory Rozenbeg - Cruise Disappearance of George SmithWe represented George's wife, Jennifer, who instructed us to retain noted forensic scientist Henry Lee in the face of the cruise line's lack of cooperation.

Last year, CBS reported that the FBI had possession of a videotape taken by the four men where they talk callously of George's death. The video captures one of the men saying "we gave that guy a paragliding lesson without a parachute." Cruise passenger Greg Rosenberg reportedly flashes gang signs and says "Told ya I was gangsta." 

We have written prior articles about Gregory Rozenberg such as "Disappearance of George Smith Update: Do You Have Information About Gregory Rozenberg?"   Rozenberg's mugshots are readily available online, including the one to the right taken last fall.

Royal Caribbean concealed this tape from us throughout our representation of Jennifer Hagel. The tape's existence was revealed by the FBI last year to the lawyer for the Smith family. 

Its disgraceful that the FBI and the U.S. Department of Justice have not proceeded with a criminal case. Its been going on eight years since George's disappearance. A prosecution is long overdue.

Read our other articles about the case:

Disappearance of George Smith - Trouble as the Cruise Ship Sails to Kusadasi

A Frantic Call Back to Connecticut

Media Frenzy Follows Case of "Missing Honeymooner"

Dr. Henry Lee Boards the Brilliance of the Seas

Royal Caribbean Blocks Dr. Henry Lee's Dummy Experiment

The International Cruise Victims Organization Is Born!

Royal Caribbean Captain Says Its Just an Accident Involving a Bloody Nose

Larry King Live & the "Missing Groom Mystery" 

 

Seven & One-Half Years After Disappearance, George Smith's Family Still Seeking Answers From Royal Caribbean

The Greenwich Time newspaper reports that the family of cruise passenger George Smith, who vanished from Royal Caribbean's Brilliance of the Seas, wrote a letter to the cruise line's CEO, Richard D. Fain, on Christmas Eve seeking information about what happened aboard the cruise ship which lead to their son going overboard. 

In July of 2005, Mr. Smith was on his honeymoon with his newlywed bride, Jennifer Hagel, when he disappeared from the cruise ship.  Although the cruise line quickly labeled the incident an accident, there was blood found in his cabin as well as on an awning below his cabin. Four men who were last seen with George Smith Disappearance - Royal Caribbean Brilliance of the SeasMr. Smith were suspected of either being involved in or knowledgeable of the circumstances surrounding his death. 

Last year, there was a bombshell revelation that shortly after the incident, Royal Caribbean had possession of a video taken by one of the four men which revealed one of the other men saying "we gave that guy a paragliding lesson without a parachute." Our firm represented Mr. Smith's wife, and the cruise line kept this videotape secret from us. The question arises what other information the cruise line has not revealed to Mr. Smith's grieving family.

The Smith family noted that it has been 2,729 days since their son and brother went overboard in the Aegean Sea as the cruise ship headed to Turkey. The newspaper quotes from the Smith family's letter to CEO Fain:

"After seven and one half years, we still do not know who murdered George on your cruise liner. His murderer(s) remain at large. Your cruise ship, the floating crime scene, continues to hop from port to port carrying happy-go-lucky passengers seemingly unaware of the atrocities that were inflicted upon our son and brother on that very boat."

"Does Royal Caribbean have information which it did not provide under the terms of its settlement with our family that would finally get justice for George and allow George's soul to rest in peace?"

The George Smith case captivated the nation's attention in 2005 when it became obvious that there was a lot more to the story than what Royal Caribbean wanted the public to believe that this was a passenger simply falling overboard. A number of Congressional hearings were scheduled which brought focus on the problem of crimes and unsolved disappearances on the high seas.

If you want to learn more about this case, consider reading our series of articles about Mr. Smith's disappearance.  

Tonight: Update On Missing Cruise Passenger George Smith

As I mentioned earlier this week, tonight the Nancy Grace program takes a look back at the mystery of the George Smith case. 

Mr. Smith "disappeared" from the Brilliance of the Seas during his honeymoon cruise with his newlywed wife, Jennifer Hagel, in July 2005.

There has been some mystery and intrigue over the years. But there have been developments this year which point the finger squarely at some of the men last seen with Mr. Smith as being involved in his disappearance.      

Seven years ago, Nancy Grace interviewed me on her show about the case (we represented George's widow, Jennifer)George Smith Disappearance - Cruise Ship. Ms. Grace spent more time attacking Jennifer, than focusing on those responsible for George's death and the cruise line which tried to cover it up.

The photo to the right is of George and Jennifer at the beginning of their honeymoon cruise. (We distributed the photo at the Congressional hearing into Mr. Smith's death in 2005).

This was a couple deeply in love, with a life together ahead of them. 

Let's hope that tonight's program is really an update on who was involved in George's death over seven years ago, and not a platform to attack his wife, Jennifer.

This is a case where there needs to be an arrest of those who were involved in George's death and those who covered it up.

Unsolved Cruise Disappearance: What Happened to George Smith?

George Smith - Cruise Ship - Missing HoneymoonerOver seven years ago, newlywed cruise passenger George Smith disappeared from Royal Caribbean's Brilliance of the Seas into the Aegean Sea. The cruise line quickly concluded that Mr. Smith probably sat on the railing of his balcony and fell overboard, but there is absolutely no proof of that.

What Royal Caribbean knew but did not reveal to the families of George Smith and his bride, Jennifer Hagel, was that it had seized a video camera from other men last seen with Mr. Smith. The day after Mr. Smith's disappearance, these passengers were eating breakfast in the cruise ship's dining room when they began filming each other. According to a CBS program this year, the men were recorded laughing about the situation and mocking Mr. Smith.

The camera then stops on one of the three men who said: "We gave that guy a paragliding lesson without a parachute."

Our firm represented Mr. Smith's widow and we hired forensic expert Dr. Henry Lee back in 2005 to investigate the case. The cruise line never revealed this video to us, or to Dr. Lee, or to the public. Instead, it launched a scandalous media campaign to portray Mr. Smith as a drunk and his bride as unfaithful. 

This Friday, the Nancy Grace program is airing a special look back at this case entitled "What Nancy Grace Mystery - Disappearance of George Smith Happened to George Smith?" The program will take a look back on some of the developments in the case. This "mystery" is no mystery at all. Those involved should be prosecuted. 

We have written a series of articles about Mr. Smith's case, including Disappearance of George Smith IV - Six Years Later. We discussed what happened on the cruise and how the cruise line and the media responded to Mr. Smith's disappearance.  

I am not a fan of Nancy Grace. Her program lost focus on the cruise line's cover-up and the incompetency of the FBI in investigating the crime, while unnecessarily pitting the Smith family against their daughter-in-law. But her program is one of the few that continues to cover Mr. Smith's disappearance. I'll be watching this Friday.

Seven Year Anniversary of Disappearance of Cruise Passenger George Smith: When Will the FBI Make an Arrest?

Yesterday was the seven year anniversary of the disappearance of George Smith from Royal Caribbean's Brilliance of the Seas cruise ship.

You will recall that Mr. Smith was on his honeymoon cruise with his newlywed bride, Jennifer Hagel, when he went over the railing of his balcony early on the morning of July 5, 2005.  Although the cruise line quickly concluded that this was just an "accident," passengers took photographs of a blood-stained awning and heard sounds consistent with violence in Mr. Smith's cabin.

George Smith - Disappearance - Royal Caribbean Cruise Ship Murder?I have always believed that Mr. Smith was a victim of foul play.  Mr. Smith's wife retained our firm to represent her and the interests of Mr. Smith's estate.  The deeper we looked into the case, the more certain we were that this was no accident. 

Last year we wrote a series of articles Disappearance of George Smith IV - Six Years Later.  We discussed what happened on the cruise and how the cruise line and the media responded to Mr. Smith's disappearance.

Two months ago, CBS interviewed a former Assistant FBI Director who discussed a video tape recorded by three passengers last seen with Mr. Smith. The day after Mr. Smith's disappearance, these passengers (known as the "Russian men" - the two Rozenbergs and "Rusty" Kofman) were eating breakfast in the cruise ship's dining room when they began filming each other.  According to the CBS program, the men were recorded laughing about the situation and mocking Mr. Smith.

The camera then stops on one of the three men (who was not identified) who said: "We gave that guy a paragliding lesson without a parachute."

Obviously this statement is incriminating, considering Mr. Smith went over the railing of his balcony and the Royal Caribbean security report on the morning of the disappearance states that young men were seen leaving the area near the Smith's cabin at around 4:30 AM.

With this statement as well as other evidence we are familiar with in the case, it is disturbing that the FBI has not made an arrest.

It's long overdue. 

  

 

"New" Evidence in George Smith Case: "We Gave That Guy A Paragliding Lesson Without A Parachute"

CBS News aired an interesting program today where additional details of the incriminating statements by the "three Russians" about "missing honeymooner" George Smith were revealed.

CBS interviewed former Assistant FBI Director John Miller who explained that the day after Mr. Smith's disappearance, the two Rozenberg men and "Rusty" Kofman were eating breakfast in the cruise ship's George Smith Missing - Cruise Ship Murderdining room when they began filming each other. Miller explains that the men were recorded laughing about the situation and mocking Mr. Smith. 

The camera then stops on one of the three men (who was not identified) who said: "We gave that guy a paragliding lesson without a parachute."

To my knowledge, these precise words have never been revealed to the public before.  Although the release of the actual statement is new, the existence of the tape is not.  The FBI has been in possession of the tape since 2005.

Obviously this statement is incriminating, considering Mr. Smith went over the railing of his balcony and the Royal Caribbean security report on the morning of the disappearance states that young men were seen leaving the area near the Smith's cabin at around 4:30 AM.

With this statement as well as other evidence we are familiar with in the case (we represented Jennifer Hagel and hired forensic scientist Dr. Henry Lee to investigate whether George was thrown overboard), it is disturbing that the FBI has not made an arrest.  

It's long overdue.

 

 

Video credit:  CBS News

Last summer we wrote a series of articles about Mr. Smith's disappearance: Disappearance of George Smith IV - Six Years Later.

The George Smith Cruise Disappearance Case Returns to Nancy Grace

The case of missing cruise honeymooner George Smith returned to cable news tonight.  Nancy Grace hosted a one hour show filled with all types of legal and psychological "experts" who knew nothing about what happened on the ill fated cruise but nonetheless speculated wildly about what is now a seven year old case.   I'm not a Nancy Grace fan, but let's hope the renewed media attention leads to an arrest and closure for the families involved.

Last summer we wrote a series of articles about Mr. Smith's disappearance:Disappearance of George Smith IV - Six Years Later

 

 

New Clues Emerge in Case of "Missing Honeymooner" George Smith?

In the video below, MSNBC interviews the editor of the Greenwich Magazine which published an article this weekend about the death of George Smith.  We mentioned the new article, written by Timothy Dumas, last week in our blog: "New Information in the Unsolved Murder of Cruise Honeymooner George Smith."

You will recall that Mr. Smith disappeared off of the Royal Caribbean Brilliance of the Seas in July 2005. Although the cruise line tried to shrug the event off as a drunken accident, suspicions pointed to four men last seen in the early morning hours of July 5, 2005.

The "new" clues include a video of the men on the cruise ship.  The men recorded themselves at some point on the cruise ship after George Smith's disappearance and may have said something incriminating.

There is also mention that the criminal investigation may be transferred from the Connecticut FBI to the New York FBI where some of the men live.

The video below shows  a number of old photographs associated with the case including a press conference I held in Miami in January 2006 (second photo, below right).   Last summer I published a series of articles about the case: Disappearance of George Smith IV - Six Years Later

Update George Smith Cruise Ship Disappearance Here is the transcript of the interview:

New details have surfaced in the disappearance of George Smith who vanished from his honeymoon cruise in 2005. Greenwich magazine's Cristin Marandino discusses the case with MSNBC's Thomas Roberts.

"There is some new information about to talk about in the case of a Connecticut man lost at sea on his honeymoon. it happened seven years ago. you'll probably remember that George Smith went overboard while on his honeymoon in 2005. The FBI investigation into his death is still open.

Greenwich Magazine has exclusive details about new evidence that may lead to an arrest.  Explain to all of us -- you said yourself this is a story with a lot of twists and turns.  What's the new evidence that may lead to an arrest?

Well, good morning.  There is a bunch of new evidence going on here.  One of the probably biggest and most exciting pieces that really is going to hopefully help push this case forward is the existence of a videotape that is in the possession of the FBI. On that videotape there are certain individuals that make very self incriminating statements following the death of George Smith.

Cristin, when you talk about videotape, this is not surveillance video from the actual ship. This is something shot after the event itself?

No, that is correct.  This is a videotape that the gentlemen made of themselves. And in their room, sort of passing around a flip phone.

So lots of people remember this. This was a beautiful young couple on their honeymoon. This was such a horrific incident. there was, you know, correlations, though, or kind of scandalous questions brought up about what this couple was doing that night, how much both parties had been drinking, and things trying to make them look somehow as if he deserved this in some way, shape, or form.  The family has disputed that.  The wife has moved on. even gotten a settlement.  How is the family responding to this new information that you're working on?

The family is obviously thrilled about this new information, and they have been working very carefully with a Greenwich based attorney, Mike Jones, who in large part has been responsible for helping to push this forward and making sure that this evidence does get into the right hands, which now it has. and, yeah, there's been a lot of misconceptions, a lot of in inconsistency with this case.  And i think Maritime Lawyer Jim Walker - Cruise Ship Crimethat's what we tried to do and why we tried to get in the game at this point, put all of that stuff to rest, and really start talking about what did happen and helping to put the pieces of the puzzle together. And, you know, exonerate the people that should be exonerated and put a little bit of a light on people who maybe should be looked at more closely.

When you talk about the family, explain the relationship between George Smith 's parents and his wife.

At this point, I think everybody's sort of moved on. I think it's, you know, as you said, Jennifer has moved on.  She is also living in Connecticut. I don't -- you know, i think they are just living their own lives.

if you were to guess, hazard a guess as to when we may hear of an arrest or arrests are made, what timetable would you suggest?

I really at this point don't know.  And the people that i have spoken with, the hope is that because of this tape, and because of the fact that they are trying to get the case transferred from the Connecticut FBI to the New York FBI, which is a good sign on a lot of levels.  One, it shows that two of the targets that they are looking at do indeed live in New York. So it shows they are trying to push it forward in that way.  And that this tape is out there, and the information is out there that this tape exists. so hopefully, you know, i would say hopefully soon.

It's certainly a case that gripped the attention of the American people. And i can imagine for the Smith family, it will be nice if they can find some forward motion and see justice in all of this. But we'll continue to watch. Cristin, thank you for your coverage this morning." 

Watch the video below. If you don't subscribe to Greenwich Magazine, read the first part of the article "Mystery at Sea" here.

  

 

Press Release: New Information in the Unsolved Murder of Cruise Honeymooner George Smith

Greenwich Magazine - Mystery at Seas - Murder of George Smith  A publishing company in Connecticut issued a press release today indicating that there is additional evidence to support the conclusion that George Smith was murdered during his honeymoon cruise in July of 2005. 

Greenwich Magazine indicates that its June edition will contain "new information released for the first time" which will provide additional proof that "could lead to the criminal indictment of suspects in one of the biggest unsolved murder cases in Greenwich, Connecticut history." 

The press release also mentions an "incriminating videotape." 

The story is called Mystery at Sea, and was investigated and written by Timothy Dumas.  Mr. Dumas previously authored the book Greentown, Murder and Mystery in Greenwich, America's Wealthiest Community, which chronicles the murder of Martha Moxley.

The press release states that Mr. Dumas conducted extensive interviews and waded through depositions, cruise ship files, incident reports and witness statements. It appears that he has been working closely with the Connecticut lawyers representing Mr. Smith's parents and sister.  

Last summer I published a series of articles about the case: Disappearance of George Smith IV - Six Years Later

I'm looking forward to reading the article at the end of this month.

Let's hope that the new information leads to an arrest.

 

Credit:  Greenwich Magazine

Disappearance of George Smith Update: Do You Have Information About Gregory Rozenberg?

Gregory Rozenberg - George Smith - Cruise DisappearanceThis weekend saw a renewed interest of the public into the disappearance of cruise passenger George Smith with the airing of a "update" of the unsolved case by Dateline NBC called "Overboard."

The Dateline program focused on the four men last seen with Mr. Smith: Gregory Rozenberg, Zachary Rozenberg, Rostislav ("Rusty") Kofman, and Josh Askin.  These four cruise passengers were in Mr. Smith's cabin after 4:00 AM in the morning shortly before Mr. Smith went overboard. 

Although Dateline suggested there is a new focus by the FBI on these four passengers, the truth of the matter is that the FBI focused on these four shortly after Mr. Smith's death in July 2005 - over six and one-half years ago.

Many news sources, including the New York Post, are reporting that the "Russians" (the two Rozenberg brothers and Rostislav Kofman) all reside in New York and allegedly are now subject to the scrutiny of the FBI "mafia team" in New York.  Hogwash.  Greg Rozenberg lived in South Florida (Boca Raton) for years.  He has spent years in a prison in Florida.  He now lives in Dade City, Florida.

Greg Rozenberg has been arrested multiple times in Florida for various alleged offenses ranging from driving with a suspended license to possession of cannabis to trafficking oxycodone.  His mug shots are readily available on line, including the one below taken in 2009.  

The Dateline show showed snippets from the deposition of Mr. Rozenberg which was taken by one of the lawyers for the Smith family while Mr. Rozenberg was in jail in Florida.  My impression of the Gregory Rozenberg - George Smith - Cruise Disappearancecomplete deposition is that the Smith family's lawyer did his best to try and lead inmate Rozenberg to testify against Mr. Smith's wife, Jennifer Hagel.  To see a lawyer for the Smith family try and lead a felon into implicating a completely innocent widow is one of the most disgusting things I have ever seen. 

Jennifer Hagel passsed a FBI polygraph in 2005.  The FBI never considered her a suspect in her husband's death.   

You can watch parts of the video deposition of Greg Rosenberg shown on dateline here.

We will show other portions of the two hour Rozenberg deposition, and explain why that deposition was taken, in another article.

Do you have information about Greg Rozenberg, or fellow cruise passengers Zach Rosenberg, Rusty Kofman and Josh Askin, which may provide answers to solve the George Smith case?

 

Photo credits:

Top:  Greg Rozenberg's Facebook

Bottom:  Palm Beach Sheriff's Office 

Update on Disappearance of George Smith From Royal Caribbean's Brilliance of the Seas Cruise Ship

George Smith Disappearance Update This evening Dateline NBC will air what it is calling an "update" on the story of missing cruise passenger George Smith who disappeared under suspicious circumstances during his honeymoon cruise aboard Royal Caribbean's Brilliance of the Seas cruise ship in the summer of 2005.

I am glad to see that Mr. Smith's case  is receiving additional attention.  

I have always thought that foul play was involved in Mr. Smith's disappearance.  Hopefully the renewed media attention will motivate someone to come forward with information which may help solve the case.    

That being said, I am skeptical whether anything "new" will be revealed by the Dateline program tonight.  

Dateline advertises that its program will tell " . . . the story of an active, ongoing investigation whereby FBI agents won't talk on the record.  However, the cruise line Royal Caribbean has conducted its own internal investigation and Dateline has the exclusive update about what George Smith Murder Updatehappened aboard the ship in the early hours of July 5, 2005."

Let's keep a few things in perspective.  Mr. Smith's disappearance, or murder as many people including me believe, occurred on July 5, 2005 - six and one-half years ago. 

In 2005, Royal Caribbean provided us with copies of photographs of the cabin and awning, statements, security reports and other information about Mr. Smith's disappearance.  The case was discussed regularly on all of the nightly cable news shows and major networks which broadcast a great deal of information about what happened on the night in question. 

Royal Caribbean's investigation into what happened ended in 2005.  The cruise line defense lawyers who were sent to the cruise ship have subsequently switched to representing passengers and crewmembers.  Believe it or not, they are now employed by a firm which sues Royal Caribbean and other cruise lines.  There has been no "internal investigation" by Royal Caribbean into the circumstances surrounding Mr. Smith's death for over 6 years. 

Now, lets consider the so called "open and active" FBI investigation.  Six and one-half years George Smith Death Update - Dr. Henry Leeago, the FBI was investigating the case, although I would consider it rather amateurish.  The FBI had not even interviewed the passengers on either side of the Smith's cabin a month after the cruise.  These individuals were first interviewed by Joe Scarborough on cable news.  The investigation did not get serious until we boarded the cruise ship with forensic scientist Dr. Henry Lee and a team of investigators.  It was only after we retained Dr. Lee did the FBI test the carpet in the cabin for blood stains.

Our firm was in constant contact with the FBI (we represented George Smith's widow Jennifer Hagel) in 2005 and 2006.  It was clear to us that the FBI investigation lost steam in early 2006.  A  Grand Jury was convened and called witnesses but returned no indictments against anyone.  There has been no real investigation by the FBI for well over five years as best as we can tell. 

What the Dateline television show will discuss are certain documents, photographs and video which the cruise line has been offering to the families since June of 2006.  At that time, we reached a settlement with Royal Caribbean where the cruise line would pay $1,060,000 in compensation, as well as turn over all of the cruise line's documents, photographs, CCTV images, statements and other information in order for the families to try and learn what happened to Mr. Smith.  Much of the George Smith Murder - Cruise Ship  information was confidential and privileged which  the cruise line had no legal obligation to disclose.

The Smith family objected to the terms of the settlement.  A probate court in Greenwich upheld the settlement, finding that it was fair and in the best interests of all concerned.  But the Smith family appealed the Greenwich probate court's ruling and this delayed the cruise line's release of information.  Several years later, Royal Caribbean increased its settlement offer by $250,000 for a total of $1,310,000 and again agreed to provide exactly the same documents, photographs and information it offered back in 2006.

In 2010, Royal Caribbean turned all of its internal information over to the families.  There was nothing new in these documents most of which we obtained in 2005.  The attorney for the Smith family provided copies of these documents to the producers of Dateline which tonight will disclose the "new" information.      

Jennifer Hagel - Disappearance of George Smith In truth, Dateline is now airing the same old photographs, cruise line documents and statements which we obtained in 2005 and which the cruise line has been offering to all of the families since 2006.

The Smith family apparently has a new theory into their son's death, namely that he was killed in an attempted robbery.  The New York Post contains a quote, this morning, from the Smith family's lawyer that “The family believes it was a robbery-gone-bad." 

The New York Post's article contains the provocative title: "Feds' Mafia Team Join Probe into Disappearance of Conn. Newlywed."  The alleged "mafia" connection to some of the men last seen with Mr. Smith and who were in his cabin around 4:00 AM on the morning of his disappearance is nothing new.

The Post also published a couple of CTTV images of Mr. Smith and his wife Jennifer Hagel which Royal Caribbean released several years ago.  

Last summer, we published a series of articles on the sixth year anniversary of Mr. Smith's death:George Smith Disappearance Update

Trouble as the Cruise Ship Sails to Kusadasi

A Frantic Call Back to Connecticut

Media Frenzy Follows Case of "Missing Honeymooner" 

Dr. Henry Lee Boards the Brilliance of the Seas 

Royal Caribbean Blocks Dr. Henry Lee's Dummy Experiment 

The International Cruise Victims Organization Is Born! 

Royal Caribbean Captain Says Its Just an Accident Involving a Bloody Nose 

Larry King Live & the "Missing Groom Mystery"

Do you have information which may solve this case?   Please let us hear from you.

  

 

Photo credit:  Bottom 2 photographs (CCTV images) Royal Caribbean / New York Post

"Man Overboard - Inside the Honeymoon Cruise Murder"

Man Overboard - George Smith - Cruise CrimeThis week I received a copy of a paperback book about the disappearance of George Smith IV during his honeymoon cruise on Royal Caribbean's Brilliance of the Seas in July 2005.

The book is written by a reporter from the Greenwich Post, Joan Lownds, who covered the story from the beginning. 

The back cover of the book promises "the inside story of America's most notorious murder cases that shook the cruise industry to the core."   Although I have always opined that the case probably involved foul play, there is no explanation in the book regarding who, how or why someone allegedly murdered Mr. Smith.

"Man Overboard" contains a good history of the series of Congressional hearings from 2005 - 2010 into the issue of cruise ship crime.

The book also discusses many of the stories of members of the International Cruise Victims organization (ICV), as well as the cases of firm clients Laurie Dishman, Lynette Hudson and Janet Kelly.  

Disappearance of George Smith - Larry King Live & the "Missing Groom Mystery"

Larry King Live - George Smith Disappearance - Cruise ShipThe media's interest into the "missing groom" story was unparalleled in the history of the cruise industry.  Royal Caribbean had been able to dodge bad press about the disappearance of passengers and women and children sexually assaulted on its fleet of cruise ships for decades.

But the case of George Smith was different.  Every network was covering the story, non-stop. 

I will never forget sitting behind my desk speaking on the telephone with Greta Van Sustern about the case when my secretary, Betsy, buzzed me saying: "Larry King is holding on line 2."  I suppose it was a tad obnoxious to respond to Betsy: "tell Larry that I will call him back in a couple of minutes." 

But that was the way it was with the most popular case involving a cruise ship mystery like this.  We were receiving letters, Fed Ex packages, flower arrangements, notes, and invitations to stay in hotels before and after high profile interviews on a weekly basis.  

We used the media to our advantage.  We were dealing with Royal Caribbean, an admitted corporate felon which was just coming off a five year period of probation for lying to the U.S. Coast Guard about wide spread illegal dumping of chemicals and blackwater into the aqua, warm waters of Biscayne Bay in Miami to the dark, cool waters of Alaska.  This was a corporation with a reputation for dishonesty. 

Larry King Live - George Smith Missing - Royal Caribbean Cruise ShipLarry King invited me on his show twice.  First in August 2005 before I was hired by Jennifer Hagel to talk about the issues in the case.  The second time was in January 2006, together with the Smith family and their counsel, after I was retained, to talk about the details of the case. 

Shows like Larry King Live, with literally millions of viewers, were instrumental in educating the public about the problems of crimes and disappearances on cruise ships which the cruise industry had kept hidden for years.  The publicity would continue as the U.S. Congress convened five hearings in the House of Representatives and Senate into the issue of crimes and disappearances of passengers on cruise ships. 

 

This article is part of a series of articles this week: Disappearance of George Smith IV - Six Years Later.

Do you have information which may solve this case?   Please let us hear from you.

Disappearance of George Smith - Royal Caribbean Captain Says Its Just an Accident Involving a Bloody Nose

Two days after George Smith went overboard from the Brilliance of the Seas, the cruise ship's captain prepared a casualty report concluding that Mr. Smith accidentally fell off of the railing.   The official report did not mention any of the suspicious noises in the Smith's cabin heard by other passengers or that other young men (later accused of raping a passenger during the cruise) had been observed leaving the cabin around 4:30 AM.  

George Smith Disappearance - Royal CaribbeanCaptain Michael Lachtaridis' conclusion fit the usual Royal Caribbean play book of "blame the passenger."   The cruise line would later dance around this quick self-serving official report to the maritime authorities by suggesting that this was just a "preliminary" conclusion or just the captain's "personal opinion."

MSNBC's Dan Abrams invited Captain Lachtaridis onto his cable news program and interviewed him over the course of two nights.  It was a rather amazing experience to watch the captain, who retired shortly after Mr. Smith's disappearance but was nonetheless still wearing his stripes on TV, stick with his theory that it was just an "accident."  

Quote: 

"He wanted to get some fresh air from the balcony.  He was sitting on the railing and he lost his balance."

Quote:

"Now if George - let‘s say he fell and then if you fell, you break your nose and start bleeding and then you take a towel and then you wipe it there and then you go outside to get some fresh air.  And then you are sitting on the railing and you fell over, so, that‘s the whole thing.  I mean blood on the towel or wherever you pass by to go outside to the balcony to get some fresh air and you fall over."  

George Smith Missing - Cruise Ship DisappearanceCaptain Lachtaridis was very theatrical in his demonstration of how a nose bleed could account for the large amount of blood which covered the awning below the Smith's cabin. 

He thought that it was fine that the cruise line power-blasted the blood off of the awning by early afternoon, after the Turkish police's lighting fast two hour investigation.

He saw nothing wrong with the four men last seen with George Smith, and who had been previously warned for rowdy behavior and using foul language, continuing on with the cruise.  Until, at least, a young passenger accused them of raping her two days after George Smith went overboard.  Only then did Captain Lachtaridis kick them off of the cruise ship in Italy.

George falling in the cabin?  A bloody nose?  Sitting on the rail to get fresh air?  Falling a second time, this time off of the railing? 

Captain Lachtaridis gave quite a performance for the TV audience.

  

Photo credits:  MSNBC Dan Abrams 

This article is part of a series of articles this week: Disappearance of George Smith IV - Six Years Later.

Do you have information which may solve this case?   Please let us hear from you.

Disappearance of George Smith - The International Cruise Victims Organization Is Born!

George Smith Disappearance  In December 2005, Congress convened its first hearing on the issue of the safety of U.S. passengers on foreign flagged cruise ships.  The hearing came about primarily due to the efforts of several families who had lost loved ones from cruise ships on the high seas, under suspicious circumstances. 

George Smith's family was instrumental in bringing a great amount of much needed publicity to the issue of passenger "disappearances" and the shoddy manner in which cruise lines respond to such tragedies.  George III and Maureen Smith and their daughter Bree Smith of Greenwich Connecticut contacted Congressman, Chris Shays (R-CT).   

The Smith family joined forces with the father of a young woman who also "disappeared" from a cruise ship operated by Royal Caribbean's sister cruise line Celebrity Cruises.  Ken Carver, a former president of an insurance company in New York, lost his beloved daughter, 40 year old Boston resident Merrian Carver, who went missing under suspicious circumstances during a cruise to Alaska aboard the Mercury cruise ship.  

The cruise line tried its best to cover the incident up.  It didn’t report Merrian missing to either the FBI or the Alaskan State Troopers, even though the cabin attendant reported her missing early in the cruise. The cruise line either gave her personal items away or put them in storage. 

When Mr. Carver asked for an explanation, Royal Caribbean responded by lying to Mr. Carver and disposing of evidence.  Mr. Carver didn’t go away.  The story went public.  The The Arizona Republic published an excellently researched and written story, revealing the hideous manner that this cruise line acted when people disappear at sea. 

Mr. Carver's situation is simply the worst conduct I have ever seen by a cruise line.

One of Mr. Carver's daughters had been an intern of Congressman Shays when Mr. Carver had lived in Connecticut.  Mr. Carver's story was featured on CNN's Anderson Cooper's show.  The  producer for the program, CNN's David Fitzpatrick (a resident of Connecticut), recommended to Mr. Carver that he call on Congressman Shays and tell him about the way the cruise line treated his family. 

Ken Carver - International Cruise VictimsAs a result of the convergence of tragedies suffered by the families of George Smith and Merrian Carver, Congressman Shays convened a hearing to study the problem of passengers disappearing on cruise ships and the manner that the cruise industry treated the surviving the surviving family members.  He opened the hearing by stating:

"The bottom line is we are suspicious, candidly, that there's some huge problem in the cruise industry.  We think that people are not aware of some of the challenges and some of the potential problems they encounter."   

Mr. Carver attended the December 2005 hearing.  I attended the hearing with my client Jennifer Hagel.  Mr. Carver introduced himself to me at the hearing.  He asked me if I was interested in supporting legislation making cruising safer for the public?  I saw a conviction in Mr. Carver's eyes six years ago.  I realized that he was serious.  

Mr. Carver realized that he could not fight the cruise industry alone.  He thereafter created an organization called the International Cruise Victims (ICV) organization, effective January 1, 2006.   As a former executive, Mr. Carver had the leadership and management skills to create a highly effective organization.  Like the many other ICV members, Mr. Carver also had a passionate dedication to his daughter and a desire to protect other families from going through a similar nightmare. 

Mr. Carver was responsible for convening four additional Congressional hearings, taking the ICV organization internationally, and organizing a team of victims who were responsible for the enactment of the 2010 Cruise Vessel Security and Safety Act

George Smith, Merrian Carver and other victims may be gone from this lifetime, as we know it.  But their legacies continue today. 

The cruising public is safer for the efforts of their families.  

 

This article is part of a series of articles this week: Disappearance of George Smith IV - Six Years Later.  Do you have information which may solve this case?   Please let us hear from you. 

Disappearance of George Smith - Six Years Later - Royal Caribbean Blocks Dr. Henry Lee's Dummy Experiment

One of the tests which Dr. Henry Lee wanted to perform during his inspection of the Brilliance of the Seas cruise ship was dropping a life size mannequin from the rail of the balcony.

Dr. Henry Lee - George Smith Cruise DisappearanceA metal awning is located several floors below the balcony.  It is around 12 feet wide and ran the length of the cruise ship, covering the lifeboats on each side of the ship.  It is convex in shape with the high point in the middle, sloping gradually on one side toward the ship and on the other side gradually toward the water.

Before we boarded the cruise ship, Dr. Lee explained the tests he wanted to perform.

One of the issues which we wanted to determine was where the mannequin would land on the surface below.  What was the most likely location where the “dummy” would land if it was sitting on the rail and slipped and fell straight down?  Where would the dummy land if thrown from the balcony?  On which side of the high point of the surface would it land?  Would the mannequin tend to roll toward the water or safely back toward the side of the cruise ship?

Answers to these questions may assist in answering the basic question of whether Mr. Smith slipped off of the balcony or he was thrown overboard.  There was great debate in the media about this.  Was there a fight in the cabin which led to Mr. Smith going over the rail?  Or was this a simple case of falling overboard?  Vanity Fair magazine published an article which concluded that Mr. Smith was intoxicated and decided to sit on the balcony rail and fell off while smoking a cigarette - a conclusion I thought was unsubstantiated and silly.   

Dr. Henry Lee - George Smith Cruise DisappearanceBefore we arrived at the port, the cruise line notified me that Dr. Lee would not be permitted to conduct the test.  With news reporters and camera crews at the port covering Dr. Lee's inspection and helicopters hovering overhead, the images of a mannequin repeatedly being thrown over the rail was obviously a spectacle Royal Caribbean wished to avoid being shown on the nightly news channels.   

On the morning of the inspection, I decided that our team would not take "no" for an answer.  So I placed the dummy in a six foot box, tucked the box under my arm, and walked toward the cruise terminal with Dr. Lee and our team.

One of the senior security officials at the cruise line stopped me outside of the entrance to the terminal.  He told me that I would not be allowed to enter the terminal with the mannequin.  About a hundred news reporters and cameras were watching about 50 feet away.   I smiled and asked him if he wanted to get into an arm wrestling match before the reporters?  He smiled back and said no.  We entered the terminal with the mannequin. 

Once I and the dummy were inside the terminal and outside of the view of the cameras, the cruise line security personnel confiscated the mannequin.  The test would not take place. 

Dr. Henry Lee - Jim Walker - George Smith Cruise DisappearanceRoyal Caribbean would later tell the media that it did not permit the tests for the "safety of passengers."   The cruise line also offered an opportunity for us to conduct the test while the vessel was in dry-dock in the Bahamas, safely outside the view of the U.S. media.  But flying Dr. Lee and his team around the country was not an inexpensive undertaking.  

Dr. Lee never performed this experiment.

I have always wondered what the tests would have revealed.  Is it possible to fall off the balcony and roll off of the awning?  Or could this have happened only by being thrown over the rail and/or dragged off of the surface below?

 

This article is part of a series of articles this week: Disappearance of George Smith IV - Six Years Later.

Do you have information which may solve this case?   Please let us hear from you. 

Photo credits:  MSNBC

Disappearance of George Smith - Six Years Later - A Frantic Call Back to Connecticut

Royal Caribbean did not permit Jennifer Hagel back into her cabin after blood was discovered on the awning below the cabin.  No one on the ship explained to Jennifer that she had been found unconscious on the floor near a stairwell early in the morning, or that her husband's blood was covering the awning. 

Eventually, the cruise line permitted Ms. Hagel to call her parents back in Connecticut to tell them that George was missing from the cruise ship.  It must have been a terrible ordeal for a father several thousands of miles away to listen to his daughter consumed with grief and confusion on the other end of a long distance telephone call. 

The hardest call to be made, however, was yet to be made.  Jennifer's father, John Hagel, was tasked with having to call the Smith family and tell them that their son had vanished from the Royal Caribbean ship.

George Smith - Missing - Royal Caribbean - Cruise Ship OverboardGeorge's mother, Maureen Smith, later told CBS News: "6:30 in the morning the phone rang, and I heard this crying on the phone and it was Jennifer's father . . . he was sobbing uncontrollably and he said, 'Something terrible has happened to George on the cruise ship. He's missing.'"

This news must have torn the Smith family's hearts into millions of frantic little pieces. 

Just ten days earlier George and Jennifer were happy newlyweds about to embark on a honeymoon cruise not to mention the rest of their lives.  George was poised to take over his father's wine and liquor store, and Jennifer who had obtained her Master's Degree in teaching was about to begin her career as an elementary school teacher in Westport.  And now the Smiths were were being told that George had somehow disappeared somewhere in the Mediterranean Sea.

Of course, neither John Hagel nor his daughter had any details of what happened, other than being told that George could not be found on the cruise ship.

Royal Caribbean would prove to be less than forthcoming regarding the happenings in and around George's cabin on the morning in question.

Royal Caribbean knew that George's blood covered the awning below his cabin.  The cruise line knew that passengers on both sides of his cabin had complained of noises in the cabin, an argument on the balcony, and things being thrown against the cabin walls.  It knew that its security logs recorded that when security personnel arrived at the Smith's cabin around 4:30 AM, the time that George probably went overboard, a guard observed "teens leaving the area." 

But the cruise line would tell the Smith and Hagel families nothing.    

George's sister Bree Smith told CBS News that she she repeatedly asked the cruise line whether they had searched the ship: "And they said, 'Yes we searched the boat.' I said, 'Well continue to search the boat, my brother has to be there.' They knew otherwise. Because they knew about the blood on the overhang. But they never told us about the blood on the overhang." 

George Smith - Jennifer Hagel - Royal Caribbean Cruise Disappearance

George Smith was not the first person to disappear from a Royal Caribbean cruise ship.  This cruise line had been faced with overboards under suspicious circumstances before.  Its game plan was to stay tight lipped.  Just nine months earlier, a crew member went overboard from the same cruise ship, the Brilliance of the Seas.  Although many crewmembers suspected a murder, the case never even made its way into a single newspaper.    

Royal Caribbean's response was to keep the dead crewmember's family in the dark and hope that they would forget about it.  This would be the cruise line's game plan for George Smith's disappearance too.

 

This article is part of a series of articles this week: Disappearance of George Smith IV - Six Years Later.

Do you have information which may solve this case?   Please let us hear from you. 

Photo credits:  MSNBC

Disappearance of George Smith - Six Years Later - Media Frenzy Follows Case of "Missing Honeymooner"

Larry King Live - Gearoge Smith Cruise DisappearanceFollowing Mr. Smith's disappearance, the Master of the Brilliance of the Seas quickly concluded that his disappearance was simply an “accident.” 

Royal Caribbean never told the families that there was blood on the awning below the cabin (which the cruise line quickly cleaned off with high pressure hoses) or that four men had entered Mr. Smith’s cabin shortly before he went overboard, or that passengers in the cabins on both sides of the Smith's cabin had heard strange noises on the night of his death.

George Smith was not the first passenger to “disappear” under suspicious circumstances on a cruise ship. 

Canadian cruise expert professor Ross Klein has tracked overboards and disappearances at sea for the past decade.  As of today, there are 164 cases of crewmembers and passengers going overboard in the past 15 years.  In my experience, most people are never found. Criminal prosecutions are rare and convictions are virtually nil.  Most cases receive little if any press coverage.

Nancy Grace - George Smith Cruise DisappearanceGeorge Smith’s cases was different.

When photographs of the blood covered awning taken by passengers began appearing on the cable news shows, the U.S. public began doubting what the cruise line was saying.

Soon, the story of George Smith became a topic on every cable news show, every night.

Joe Scarborough was the first to begin covering the story.  He invited me onto his program in early July 2005.  Then the Rita Cosby show covered the story, followed by Court TV with Catherine Crier, MSNBC’s Dan Abrams, FOX News’s Hannity and Colmes, CNN’s Larry King, Anderson Cooper and Nancy Grace.

Joe Scarborough began interviewing passengers on either side of the Smith’s cabin who had never been interviewed by either the cruise line or the FBI.  On one side was police officer Clete Hyman who described an argument between in the Smith’s cabin followed, eventually, by what he described as a “horrific thud.”  On the other side were other passengers, Mr. and Mrs. Lawyer, who described what Joe Scarborough - George Smith Cruise Disappearancesounded like a brawl, with furniture being moved and things slamming into the wall, leading them to complain to cruise line security personnel that they had "better get in there," because the cabin was probably "trashed."

All of these witnesses were coming forth, for the first time, on TV.  Few of them had ever been contacted by either the investigating authorities in Turkey (no surprise) or by the FBI.

From July through December 2005, the story of the “missing honeymooner” was a nightly event, covered by CNN, MSNBC and FOX news non-stop.  The coverage forever changed the public’s perception of the cruise industry and raised the issue of just how safe, or dangerous, cruising really was. 

What happened in the Smith's cabin?   

Was the cruise line covering up a crime? 

 

This article is part of a series of articles this week: Disappearance of George Smith IV - Six Years Later.

Do you have information which may solve this case?   Please let us hear from you.  

 

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Disappearance of George Smith - Six Years Later - Trouble as the Cruise Ship Sails to Kusadasi

George Smith and Jennifer Hagel married in late June 2005 in Newport Rhode Island.  Their honeymoon was a cruise in the Mediterranean Sea aboard Royal Caribbean's Brilliance of the Seas, which departed from Barcelona to ports in Italy, Greece and Kusadasi Turkey.

George Smith - Jennifer Hagel - Cruise DisappearanceLittle did George and Jennifer know that these would be their final days together.

In the early morning hours of July 5, 2005, at around 4:30 AM, George Smith would go over the rail of the couple's balcony, land on the metal awning over the lifeboats two floors below, and then fall into the waters in the Aegean Sea.  At the same time, his wife Jennifer Hagel was unconscious on the other side of the cruise ship in an alcove next to a stairwell adjacent to a passenger hallway some 400 feet away.    

The passengers on both sides of the Smith's cabin had previously complained to security about noise coming from the Smith's cabin.  On the fore side of the cabin, passenger Clete Hyman called the ship's security and complained about loud noises and partying.  He would later tell television reporters that he heard sounds of an argument out on the balcony.  On the aft side of the cabin, passengers Mr. and Mrs. Lawyer complained to security personnel that they should enter the Smith's cabin because they heard loud noises like furniture moving around, consistent with a struggle.

But no cruise line employees entered the cabin or called to determine what was happening. 

Cleaning personnel would later find Jennifer Hagel unconscious lying in the alcove.  Security personnel would then take her by wheelchair - not to the ship infirmary - but back to the cabin where the sounds of an argument and perhaps violence were heard.  The cruise line would make no effort to look for Mr. Smith, who was either lying on the metal awning over the lifeboats or fighting for his life in the water as the cruise ship sailed away.  Instead, the cruise line security personnel would put Ms. Hagel in bed, turn out the lights, and close the door.

Awning Over Life Boats - Brilliance of the SeasLater in the morning, after the Brilliance of the Seas had reached port in Turkey, 16 year old cruise passenger Emilie Rausch took a photograph of a large blood stain on the awning. 

Ms. Rausch would later tell CBS News, "when I took the picture, one of the things that made me think that this could have been blood - I saw a hand print running off the side of it."  

Young Ms. Rausch's eerie recollection was 100% accurate. 

Six months later when Ms. Hagel hired our firm and we retained Dr. Henry Lee to inspect the cruise ship for evidence, he would find a bloody hand print in the gutter of the awning over the lifeboats which George Smith had apparently grabbed before he went overboard.

 

This article is part of a series of articles this week: Disappearance of George Smith IV - Six Years Later.

Do you have information which may solve this case?   Please let us hear from you.  

Photo credits:

Top:  Oprah Show

Bottom:  Emilie Rausch

Disappearance of George Smith IV - Six Years Later

This past week marked six years since George Allen Smith IV disappeared from Royal Caribbean’s Brilliance of the Seas.

Mr. Smith’s disappearance, and the manner in which Royal Caribbean chose to handle the incident, brought much needed attention to the cruise industry.  The events which followed Mr. Smith’s death led to five Congressional hearings into disappearances and crimes on cruise ships, culminating in the passage of the Cruise Vessel Security and Safety Act in 2010.

Our firm represented Mr. Smith’s wife, Jennifer Hagel.  She hired us to obtain answers to what George Smith - Cruise Disappearance  happened to her husband and to seek compensation for his death.

Starting on Monday, I’ll publish an article each day about the facts and circumstances surrounding the ill fated cruise.

What happened on the night in question?  What did the cruise line do when Mr. Smith was discovered missing from the cruise ship once it had reached the port of Kusadasi Turkey the following morning?  Did Royal Caribbean voluntarily provide any information to the families of Mr. Smith and his bride Jennifer Hagel for the next several months?  What role did the media play in maintaining focus on the story?  What led the families to hire maritime lawyers?  How did the cruise line respond?

I’ll address these issues.  I’ll talk about hiring Dr. Henry Lee and bringing a team of forensic experts and detectives aboard the cruise ship to try and find answers.

How did the legal cases turn out?  What is the status of the FBI investigation today?

Most importantly, has there been justice for George Smith?

 

Articles in this series:

Trouble as the Cruise Ship Sails to Kusadasi

A Frantic Call Back to Connecticut

Media Frenzy Follows Case of "Missing Honeymooner" 

Dr. Henry Lee Boards the Brilliance of the Seas 

Royal Caribbean Blocks Dr. Henry Lee's Dummy Experiment 

The International Cruise Victims Organization Is Born! 

Royal Caribbean Captain Says Its Just an Accident Involving a Bloody Nose 

Larry King Live & the "Missing Groom Mystery"

Do you have information which may solve this case?   Please let us hear from you.

Cruise Disappearance Case of George Smith IV - Civil Case Settled But Is Justice Done?

The AP is reporting that a final settlement has been reached between Royal Caribbean and the wife and family of George Smith IV.  Royal Caribbean has paid the families and their counsel $1,310,000.  The cruise line has also turned over copies of certain investigation materials to the families.

George Smith IV - Disappearance - Royal Caribbean CruiseThe settlement arises out of an incident on July 5, 2005, when Mr. Smith disappeared from Royal Caribbean's Brilliance of the Seas cruise ship between Greece and Turkey.  Mr. Smith was on his honeymoon with his new wife, Jennifer Hagel, following their wedding the week before. 

Before the cruise ended, the cruise line, Royal Caribbean, quickly concluded that Mr. Smith's death was an accident.  However, when photographs of Mr. Smith's blood on an awning below Mr. Smith's cabin began appearing on nightly television, the U.S. public began to question exactly what happened that night. 

Mr. Smith's bride, Jennifer Hagel, hired our firm to represent the estate of her husband. In turn, we retained a number of experts including forensic scientist Henry Lee to board the cruise ship and assist us in searching for answers.  Two Congressional hearings were convened, in December 2005 and March 2006, to inquire into the circumstances surrounding the cruise line's response to Mr. Smith's disappearance.  Subsequent Congressional hearings into passenger disappearances and cruise ship crime followed in 2007 and 2008. 

In June 2006, our client Jennifer Hagel reached a proposed settlement with Royal Caribbean on behalf of her husband's estate in the amount of $1,060,000 and an agreement by the cruise line to turn over its investigation materials to the Smith and Hagel families.  The Smith family objected to the settlement. 

In 2008, a Probate Court in Greenwich, Connecticut approved the settlement - finding that is was reasonable and in the best interests of all concerned.  The Smith family again objected to the Probate Court's order and the Smith family and Ms. Hagel have been litigating in Superior Court in Connecticut for the past two years.

The civil and probate cases are now settled.  Royal Caribbean increased its settlement offer by $250,000.  The cruise line has also made its investigation materials available to the families as originally agreed to in June 2006.

Mr. Smith's disappearance brought much needed attention to the issue of mysterious overboard passengers and shipboard crime.  These events set the stage for an unprecedented five Congressional hearings leading to President Obama's signing of the Cruise Vessel Safety and Security Act.       

To date, the Federal Bureau of Investigation (FBI) has not concluded what happened in Mr. Smith's cabin in the early morning hours of July 5, 2005.  One of the four men last seen with Mr. Smith on the morning of July 5th, Gregory Rozenberg, is serving time in prison for drug trafficking.   

The AP article indicates that the FBI investigation is officially "open and active."  

The Greenwich Time, which was one of the first newspapers to cover the story in July 2005, published an article today "Smith Family Hopes for Answers After Cruise Ship Case Settles."  

January 6, 2012 Update:

Update on Disappearance of George Smith From Royal Caribbean's Brilliance of the Seas Cruise Ship

 

The Death of George Allen Smith IV - Five Years Later

Five years ago yesterday, George Smith IV (below with his dad, George Smith III) disappeared from Royal Caribbean's Brilliance of the Seas cruise ship between Greece and Turkey.  This was a terrible, terrible night, which filled the public's imagination with speculation about what happened, night after night on the cable news programs. 

Behind the news, families grieved with hearts filled with heartbreak and sorrow.   

George Smith - Royal Caribbean Cruise  Mr. Smith's newly-wed bride, Jennifer Hagel, retained me to represent the interests of George's estate against Royal Caribbean.  I was tasked with trying to find out what happened and to hold those responsible for George's death accountable.  

I did the best I could, between a recalcitrant corporate-felon-of-a-cruise-line and families engulfed in grief.    

We reached an agreement that Royal Caribbean would pay $1,060,000 and reveal all of its investigation materials regarding George's death.   

This was the best result which could be obtained.  There is no doubt abut this, especially after 5 years of retrospection.  

There existed many obstacles in this case. There is an international treaty which exists called the Athens Convention which, if found applicable, would limit the cruise liability's liability to only around $70,000.  Not to mention the wicked "Death On The High Seas Act" which precludes damages other than financial compensation.  $1,060,000 and a disclosure of information by the cruise line was a great resolution, notwithstanding such a terrible loss of a young man's life.

But the Smith family (photo below right) has fought at every turn, to appeal the  probate court decision in their own home town affirming the decision in Jennifer's favor. 

Today, the news is filled  with the deaths of young men killed on the BP Deepwater Horizon rig, whose destroyed lives have all been calculated, by the calculus of wrongful death, to be less than $1,000,000 because of the soulless DOHSA law.  And these men were working when their lives were taken, with no hint that they were negligent for drinking or poor judgment or any fault of their own.  They were blown up by the malfeasance of the rig owner and operators.    

George Smith - Jennifer Hagel - Royal Caribbean CruiseYesterday, the Connecticut Post published a story about George's disappearance and the issues left unresolved following his death. 

You can read about the dreams of young George taking over his father's Cos Cob Liquor Store, juxtaposed with George's alleged abuse of alcohol and misuse of prescription drugs during the ill fated cruise.

This is a sad story.  There is no winner. The families are estranged.  The cruise line, Royal Caribbean, cares not a whit.  Can the Smith family move on from this debacle? 

Over the last five years, my wife and I have celebrated 10 birthdays of our two sons who are now 13 and 15 years old.  My boys have grown from third and fifth grade kids to young men entering eighth and tenth grade, over the course of the Smith familiy's nightmare. 

There is not a day that goes by that I forget how blessed I am to have my boys alive and healthy, and my family intact.

 

Credits:

Photographs    Greenwich Time

"Deadly Honeymoon" - Lifetime Movie Network - Cruise Disappearance

After endless promotional movie clips, Lifetime Movie Network (LMN) finally premiered "Deadly Honeymoon" tonight.  The movie is loosely based (very loosely based) on the tragic death of George Smith IV during his honeymoon cruise with our client, Jennifer Hagel, aboard Royal Caribbean's Brilliance of the Seas cruise ship in July 2005. 

The movie follows two young newlyweds from Denver, Colorado as they embark on their honeymoon cruise from their "picture-perfect" wedding in Hawaii.  The actors in the TV movie are Chris Carmack as "Trevor Forrest" and Summer Glau who plays his newly wed wife, "Lindsey."

Chris Carmack - Trevor Forrest - George Smtih - Summer Glau - Lindsey - Jennifer Hagel - Deadly Honeymoon  LMN describes the dream vacation evolving into a night of "wild partying, infidelity and strange encounters with a group of passengers."

The next morning the passengers awake to find Trevor missing, presumed to have fallen overboard to his death.  But as the investigation proceeds, an FBI Investigator who just happens to be aboard the cruise ship questions whether Trevor’s death really was just an accident.

I had never heard of the Lifetime Movie Network before.  Now I know why. 

The movie is very dramatic.  But like most Hollywood productions it is ridiculous, having little to so with the actual facts of the case.  I can't imagine being a member of the Hagel or Smith families having to watch this nonsense.

In reality, was there "partying" during George Smith's cruise?  Yes, but what cruise ship doesn't have partying and drinking?  Was there "infidelity?"  No.  Were there "strange encounters" with other passengers?  Yes.  Passengers Josh Askin, Rusty Koffman and the two Rosenbergs who were last with George Smith on the night in question are motley characters, in my opinion.  Two nights after George Smith disappeared, they were accused of raping or watching the assault of a young woman on the cruise ship.  But Royal Caribbean had already sent their defense lawyers to the scene, and the charges were quickly dropped.  Greg Rosenberg, one of the men in George Smith's cabin before Mr. Smith went overboard, is reportedly serving time today on drug trafficking charges.  He is in prison at this moment. 

But does this movie, provide any insight into what happened on July 5, 2005 when the Brilliance of the Seas was sailing to Kusadasi, Turkey?  No.  

In real life, disappearances on cruise ships, whether due to crime or not, are rarely solved.  This is due to the failure of the cruise industry to protect U.S. passenger on foreign-flagged cruise ships like the Brilliance of the Seas. And the failure of the Federal Bureau of Investigations to prosecute crimes which occur on the high seas.

In the last 10 years, over 130 passengers have "disappeared."  Most cases remain mysteries. This is something that cruise lines don't want the U.S. public to know.

July 6, 2010 Update - Five Years Later:

The Death of George Allen Smith IV - Five Years Later

September 14, 2010 Update On George Smith Disappearance Case:

There is now a final settlement - Cruise Disappearance Case of George Smith IV - Civil Case Settled But Is Justice Done?

January 2012 Update: Update on Disappearance of George Smith From Royal Caribbean's Brilliance of the Seas Cruise Ship

May 2012 Update: "New" Evidence in George Smith Case: "We Gave That Guy A Paragliding Lesson Without A Parachute"

 

Credit:            Lifetime Movie Network 

Reason No. 2 Not To Cruise: Cruise Ships Are A Perfect Place to Commit A Crime, And Get Away With It!

This is reason no. 2 in the series: Top 10 Reasons Not To Cruise

Imagine owning a business where one of your employees drugged and raped a patron.  What would you do?   

Would you interrogate the victim before calling the police?  Would you tape record the victim without her permission?  Would you demand that the victim prepare written statements before she could receive medical treatment?   Would you scramble your defense lawyers to the scene to look for a way to build a case against the victim?  Would you refuse to provide the name and address of your Cime Rocks The Boats - Cruise Ship Crimeemployee to the victim?  Would you work with your employee's criminal defense lawyers, and meet the assailant in jail, in an effort to help him win an acquittal at the criminal trial?   

Of course not, but this is exactly what happens on many cruise ships today.

Unlike airplanes with Federal Marshals, cruise ships have no police authorities aboard.  The few security guards on the ships are loyal to their employer who pays their salary - not to the passenger. 

When a crime occurs, the cruise lines first notify their risk managements departments and their defense lawyers.  If the closed circuit television (CCTV) tapes exculpate the cruise line, the cruise line keeps the tapes.  Otherwise, the CCTV images are invariably taped over, "lost" or the cruise line will claim that the CCTV system was not working.  The cruise lines will protect their own employee's legal interests - not the passenger's rights. 

In some criminal cases we have handled, the cruise lines did not bother to notify the FBI; in other cases, the cruise lines notified the FBI only after they destroyed evidence and sanitized the crime scene. The result is that criminals on cruise ships are rarely prosecuted.

In fact, some cruise lines have never had a crew member ever convicted of a sex crime or other felony.

Most crew members know that nothing will happen to them if they commit a crime on the ship.  Because there is no criminal accountability, there is no deterrence to crimes on cruises ships.  This is not my opinion, but the conclusions reached by security and sexual harassment experts who have studied the problem. 

In 1999, Royal Caribbean hired two top notch firms to study the problem of sexual assaults on the Royal Caribbean and Celebrity fleet of cruise ships.  The cruise line retained a consulting firm called "Sheridan, Swailes" to study the company's security systems.  Royal Caribbean also retained a nationally recognized expert on sexual harassment issues, Dr. Kay Krohne, who previously was a commanding officer at the Naval Training Station in San Diego. 

Kay Krohne - Cruise Sexual Assault - Cruise Sexual HarassmentAfter conducting an extensive analysis of the Royal Caribbean / Celebrity fleet, these experts concluded that sexual misconduct occurred "frequently" during cruises.  They attributed this problem to the fact that most crew members were not afraid of being arrested, much less convicted.  Dr. Krohne reported that the worst thing that could happen to a crew member who committed a crime on a Royal Caribbean or Celebrity cruise ship was to be sent on a one way flight home.

The experts concluded that male cabin attendants and bartenders were the most likely crew members to commit a crime.  The most likely location?  The passengers cabin.  The experts recommended a number of improvements, such as placing CCTV cameras in the passenger hallways, deactivating passenger cabin key cards used by crew members after working hours, and implementing steps to collect and preserve evidence to be used against the crew members at trial.  Without having a system in place that will result in crew members being arrested, the experts concluded that the crimes would continue.    

Unfortunately, when the executives at Royal Caribbean received the reports - they did not implement any of the recommended improvements.  Instead, they chose to tell the U.S. public that crime on cruise ships was "rare."  When a crime inevitably occurred, the cruise line then sent their defense lawyers to the next port to board the ship long before the FBI arrived. 

The result is that by the time the FBI arrives or the cruise ship returns to a foreign port, the evidence is long gone. 

In an article entitled "Crime Rocks The Boats," TIME Magazine addressed this problem.  TIME reported on troubling cases involving two of our clients - Janet Kelly who was drugged and raped during a cruise from Los Angeles to Mexico, and Jennifer Hagel whose husband George Smith IV "disappeared" from a Royal Caribbean cruise ship during their honeymoon cruise in the Mediterranean.  In both cases, the cruise lines scrambled their defense lawyers to the cruise ships and quickly began compromising the passengers' potential criminal and civil cases.  TIME raised the question why "only 7% of the 135 federal investigations into sexual assault over the past five George Smith IV - Missing - Royal Caribbeanyears were prosecuted.  Why were 93% of the cases dropped?"  TIME reported on the FBI's explanation, as follows:

"By the time we can get to [the victim and witnesses], a period of time has passed, people's memories change, they were intoxicated, or there is a lack of evidence because it was cleaned."

TIME addressed the problem of crimes on the high seas and the cruise industry's efforts to cover the problem up, and quoted me in the process:

".  .  .  the only authorities most cruise-crime victims can turn to are the ship's security personnel, who have a strong incentive to protect the industry's fun-in-the-sun image.  'The cruise line controls the scene of the crime, controls the witnesses, controls the evidence,' says Miami attorney James Walker, who represented Kelly.  'It's all being filtered through the company's risk-management department.'  Court documents seen by TIME back up that contention. In one case, a passenger who was examined on board for evidence of gang rape sued the cruise line after ship security, by allowing housekeeping to repeatedly steam-clean the carpet, failed to preserve the alleged crime scene.  In another case, a passenger accused of sexual assault testified that a ship security officer coached him to state that "no sex was performed by anyone."

TIME also quoted another maritime lawyer in Miami that cruise lines " .  .  . are silently working against the victim. They're busy trying to make sure criminal cases don't see the light of day."

The LA Times also discussed the lack of prosecutions of cruise crimes in a blockbuster article entitled "Cruise Industry's Dark Waters - What Happens At Sea Stays There As Crimes On Liners Go Unresolved."  The newspaper reported on the cruise industry's lack of candor to the U.S. Congress during hearings on cruise crimes and the cruise lines' under-reporting of such crimes.  During one of the Congressional hearings which took place from 2005 - 2008, Congressman Christopher Shays questioned whether the cruise lines are keeping some crimes off the books:

"There's a huge incentive to downplay any incident, to sail on .  .  .  Is going on a cruise the perfect way to commit the perfect crime?"

In the last two years, some cruise lines have changed their approach to handling shipboard crimes.  Royal Caribbean, for example, stopped sending trial lawyers to the cruise ships, but other cruise lines still do so.  Royal Caribbean now has a "Global Security" team, consisting of former FBI agents, which handles the investigations.  But the FBI never had a good record investigating cruise crimes in the first place.  Will this lead to a greater number of arrests and convictions - or is this just more of the same?       

Recent incidents suggest that the problem continues. 

In November of last year, an Italian chef, Angelo Faliva, "disappeared" from a Princess Cruises cruise ship after the ship left Fort Lauderdale.  Mr. Faliva, like George Smith IV, was a healthy, happy, energetic and well-liked young man with a bright future ahead of him.  But when he went overboard between Aruba and Columbia, the cruise line's crisis management team took center stage.  Princess claimed that it was "puzzled" and didn't know what happened - a claim considered to be dubious given the hundreds of surveillance cameras throughout the cruise ship.

Angelo Faliva - Missing - Princess CruisesThe "mystery" of Mr. Faliva soon resembled  the typical case of corporate malfeasance which has characterized the cruise industry.  According to the Faliva family, Princess Cruises refuses to cooperate.  

The case also illustrates the indifference exhibited by the flag state, in this case the country of Bermuda which is responsible for investigating and prosecuting criminals on Princess cruise ships which fly Bermuda flags.  It took two weeks before Bermuda bothered to travel to the cruise ship.  Like the Bahamas, Liberia, and Panama where the cruise lines register their cruise ships, Bermuda has done little to investigate the disappearance.  

There seems to be a "quid pro quo" in place.  In exchange for the hundreds of thousands of U.S. dollars paid by the cruise lines in registration fees, flag states like Bermuda will conduct no real investigation.  The cruise line is left to handle criminal incidents "internally."   The worst that happens is the offending crew members receives a one way ticket home.  The victim's family is left to deal with the cruise line's stonewalling and the flag state's indifference.      

Earlier last year, Bermuda refused to arrest a bar employee, aboard the Coral Princess cruise ship, who admitted raping an unconscious woman after a crew party.  Princess Cruises then flew the rapist from Seattle back to the Philippines with only a slap on his wrist. 

Where is Princess Cruises' self-admitted rapist today?  Is he working for another cruise line serving drinks to cruise passengers?   Did Princess notify Royal Caribbean, NCL, or its parent corporation Carnival about the rapist so that they would not hire a known rapist?

In the case of Janet Kelly, the cruise line flew her rapist (also a bar employee) from the cruise ship in Los Angeles back to his home country (Jamaica) after he drugged and raped her.  We learned that he then applied for a job with Princess Cruises which accepted him into its fleet of cruise ships.  He then freely interacted with the Princess passengers, who were unaware of his criminal past.

The current system of flying rapist crew members back to their home countries with no criminal accountability - only to be re-hired by another cruise line - is exactly the problem which Dr. Wunderwelt Wisen - Cruise Crimes and DisappearancesKay Krohne warned about over a decade ago.  It is a rotten and disgraceful practice.  Sexual predators are emboldened by the cruise line's malfeasance.  They will strike again.   

Given the work of victim organizations, like the International Cruise Victims, there is an increasing international awareness that cruise lines like Princess Cruises and Royal Caribbean frequently cover up crimes and work to make certain that mysterious "disappearances" remain just that - "mysteries."  

Just the other week, the German magazine "Wunderwelt Wisen" discussed the string of disturbing cases of passengers James Scavonne (Carnival), Dianne Brimble (P and O Cruises), Merrian Carver (Celebrity Cruises), Christopher Caldwell (Carnival), and George Smith IV (Royal Caribbean), as well as the recent disappearance of Italian crew member Angelo Faliva (Princess Cruises).

Under the title "Dream Boats," the magazine analogized a tourist who boards a cruise ship as someone going on a holiday into a small town without a police station, concluding that:

"Dream ships are perfect for the perfect crime." 

 

Tomorrow, we will discuss Reason No. 3 Not To Cruise: Carnival, Royal Caribbean And NCL Are Corporate Felons  

Do you have a comment?  Let us hear from you below.

Cruise Safety Bill Heartens Greenwich Victim's Family

In a previous article "Congress Passes Cruise Crime Bill," I thanked the International Cruise Victims (ICV) organization for their efforts in enacting the Cruise Vessel Security and Safety Act of 2009. I  also thanked Congresswoman Doris Matsui (D-CA) for her leadership in enacting this ground breaking bill.  Congresswoman Matsui has been working on this legislation for the past three years after her constituent (and our friend and client) Laurie Dishman was sexually assaulted on a Royal Caribbean cruise ship in February 2006.  

Cruise Law - George, Maureen, Bree SmithI failed to mention the family whose efforts initiated the legislation, George III and Maureen Smith and their daughter Bree Smith of Greenwich Connecticut.  After George IV disappeared from Royal Caribbean's Brilliance of the Seas in July 2005, the Smiths contacted their Congressman, Chris Shays (R-CT), who convened a series of hearings in December 2005 and March 2006.  He also attended a cruise safety hearing in March 2007 convened by Congressman Elijah Cummings (D-MD).   

The Smith family brought a great amount of much needed publicity to the issue of passenger "disappearances" and the shoddy manner in which cruise lines respond to such tragedies.   

Congressman Shays introduced legislation in 2006 which, although not passed by Congress, laid the groundwork for the introduction of the current cruise safety bill.  (Congressman Shays recently lost re-election and the new Congressman from the Smith's district is Congressman Jim Himes). Congressman Shays is shown in the photo debating cruise safety issues with Anita Dunham-Potter.

Cruise Law - Chris ShaysTwo newspapers in Connecticut have reported on the new cruise law.  Joan Lownds of the Greenwich Post wrote an article entitled "Cruise Safety Bill is Passed by U.S. House Today."  Ms. Lownds reports that the Smith family formed the International Cruise Victims (ICV) with Ken Carver whose daughter disappeared from a cruise ship operated by Celebrity Cruises, a subsidiary of Royal Caribbean. The ICV has lobbied for improved safety and transparency regulations on cruise ships.

The article quotes the Smith family: “Hopefully with the passage of the Cruise Safety Bill, the voices of the victimized and missing from cruise ships, as well as their families, will no longer be ignored and silenced."

Also reporting from Connecticut is the Connecticut Post.  In an article entitled "Greenwich Victim's Family Heartened by Legislation's Progress," the Smith family is quoted: 

"If one family can be spared the torment that our family has experienced in our battle for answers and justice for George as a result of the passage of the cruise security and safety legislation, then our efforts have not been in vain."

Here is a video of an interview in 2006 by CBS's Hannah Storm of the Smith family discussing their feelings following the loss of George Smith IV: 

  

 


 

Photo Credits:  CBS / The Early Show