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Husband of Brazilian model who drowned after falling overboard couple's catamaran in rough seas is charged with manslaughter

Jorge Sestini, 37, is accused of ignoring two warnings to not set sail amid rough weather forecasts

, which is alleged to have led to the death of wife Caroline Bittencourt.

The mother-of-one, also 37, was pulled from the water on April 29 near Cigarras Beach - 14 miles away from the Sao Paulo coast where she had gone over the side of their 16ft catamaran. 

It comes after the owner of the the marina which the couple had departed claimed that he warned Sestini of the dangerously strong winds.

Detective Vanderley Pagliarini, of São Sebastião Civil Police, said: 'We believe Jorge risked the life of Caroline and himself when he apparently ignored warnings about the impending bad weather.

'Following a testimony by Leonardo Oliveira, the owner of the Le-Mar Garagem Nautica, the marina where the boat departed from, we have decided to indict Jorge for negligence and unintentionally causing the death of his wife.

'It appears Leonardo warned Jorge on two separate occasions about the conditions at sea and about tempestuous winds in the channel through which he would have had to navigate on his return journey.'

He added: 'Knowing that bad weather was raging at that moment in the region, especially for those who were on board small boats and (apparently) expressly ignoring the warnings in this regard and deciding to launch into the sea, suggests indisputable negligence.

 

'Lorenzo claimed he attempted (but failed) to contact the couple even after he sent that (audio message) to warn them not to try crossing the canal but to leave it until the next day because it was dangerous for them to try to navigate through the storm.' 

As the weather worsened, the marine owner apparently sent a second alert to Mr Sestini around 3:44pm on Sunday 28 April, by a WhatsApp audio message.

This was the last contact with the model's husband, who allegedly responded around 4:30pm thanking and informing Mr Oliveira that he was already on the channel between São Sebastião and and Ilhabela and expected to return to the marina at Pontal da Cruz on the mainland by 5:30pm. 

It has also been alleged that Ms Bittencourt was not wearing her compulsory lifejacket when she went overboard. 

Four vests were found in a closed compartment, secured by a latch, at the bow of the boat

Sailor Roberto Tenório, 46, who rescued Sestina from the sea, has also given evidence to detectives.

Mr Tenório said it was fortunate that he happened to be passing through the area and heard the husband's cries for help.

The decision by police to indict the businessman follows a backpedaling from Ms Bittencourt's family surrounding the victim's death 

Local media had claimed that Ms Bittencourt jumped into the sea to rescue her two puppies - a black spitz, called Cookie, and a white one, named Canjica.

But Orley Bittencourt, her father, had told a radio station that the animals were not with her on the boat.

However, in an Instagram message the family now say that the dogs were with the victim at the time of her death.

The model's agent, Andréia Boneti, has always insisted that the animals always travelled with her client.

 



The social media statement signed by family members, including the model's father, her 17-year-old daughter, Isabelle, and widowed husband, said: '(Caroline) and… Jorge were making a boat crossing between Ilhabela and São Sebastião, towards the city of São Paulo.

'Approximately halfway through, they were surprised by very strong winds (bursts that went up to 125km/h (77.5mph) according to official records).

'These winds, which were super turbulent with very bad visibility, hurled Caroline and her two dogs into the sea …and her husband immediately jumped into the sea to rescue her!

'Both were adrift and despite every possible effort to reach each other, Caroline unfortunately could not stay afloat and (could not) keep on swimming and sadly drowned.

'Jorge, after swimming for about three hours, was rescued late at night, by a boat that was passing by.'

 

If convicted the accused could be sentenced to up to three years in prison.

Investigators are also awaiting the results of forensic reports into the shipwreck and examinations to confirm whether the cause of death was by drowning.

 

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Source :  Daily Mail 
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