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