It was on July 5, 2005 that George Smith IV disappeared during his honeymoon cruise with his new bride, Jennifer Hagel Smith.
The couple went on a Royal Caribbean cruise ship, the Brilliance of the Seas, for a honeymoon cruise. However, disaster struck. The couple met up with a group of passengers they started drinking with, and then mysteriously George Smith was discovered missing.
It was indeed strange and suspicious circumstances. Reports were that Jennifer and George had been drinking, and in fact George had consumed some very strong shots of Absinthe. It was reported Jennifer and George had an argument that evening.
What was discovered next is shocking. There was a report of arguing in the Smith cabin, as if fighting was going on. Sounds of furniture moving was heard by passengers in the next cabin. Reports of a struggle surfaced and security was called. However, security came and left and nothing was discovered at that time.
The next morning Jennifer, who had been taken back to the cabin sometime early in the am, and placed in the bed (she was discovered passed out somewhere else on the ship), and George was not there. Jennifer didn’t think much of George not being there and went to a beauty salon appointment that morning.
It was then discovered George was missing, and had fallen off the balcony of their cabin to the water, leaving a blood stain on the canopy below.
The ship rolled into Turkey, where local authorities boarded the ship, did a very brief investigation, and the ship sailed on.
It was later that the FBI were alerted and by then material evidence had vanished or been destroyed.
The disappearance then captured national attention and many believed George was murdered on the ship.
The Smith family were of course devastated and looking for answers as to what happened to their son and brother on that honeymoon cruise.
Jennifer didn’t recall anything.
The Smith family, mom, dad, and George’s sister, hired my office to represent them in seeking to get information and possibly pursue a case against the cruise line, who many believed had botched the investigation and destroyed material evidence.
I represented the family for years. We appeared on many television shows, including the Larry King show, the Today Show and 20/20.
The FBI meanwhile continued their investigation, focusing in on the passengers George and Jennifer had met and were drinking with that evening.
A civil lawsuit was also pursued, which did result in a settlement.
However, the FBI never did obtain sufficient information to pursue any criminal action against anyone, leaving the disappearance still a mystery.
The case still remains a focus of discussion when talking about cruise ship safety and the need for stricter regulations and laws. Here is an article discussing the Smith case and proposed legislation being discussed addressing cruise ship safety.
I appeared before Congress as a maritime expert to answer questions regarding cruise ship safety and security. The hearing eventually led to passage of the Cruise Vessel Security and Safety Act, signed into law by president Obama. However, the legislation was the start and many have criticized it and the lack of compliance and enforcement. Accordingly, there are still movements to pass stronger laws governing cruise ships, as discussed in the article I have provided a link to above.
My firm continues to concentrate on handling all type of maritime cases, including cruise ship incidents. There are a wide variety of problems on cruise ships, including slip and fall accidents, deaths, disappearances, sexual assaults, crimes, shore side excursion incidents, and many more.
Our firm continues to act as safety advocates for those harmed at sea and is always available for free consultations regarding any type of maritime incident.