Tourism & Cruises

Electrician crushed to death on Carnival ship disabled safety system, police say

WARNING: GRAPHIC IMAGE Video shared by a Florida passenger on a cruise, shows blood dripping down from the elevator door.
WARNING: GRAPHIC IMAGE Video shared by a Florida passenger on a cruise, shows blood dripping down from the elevator door.

The electrician who died after being crushed in an elevator shaft aboard the Carnival Ecstasy late last year had disabled the safety system before the accident, according to a Miami-Dade police report released this week.

Chief electrician Jose Sandoval Opazo, 66, was doing routine maintenance atop an elevator stopped on the sixth floor of the Carnival Ecstasy on Dec. 27 when the elevator he was standing on started moving up toward the ninth floor, according to the report.

Opazo was killed when his body was compressed between the walls of the elevator shaft. Guests on the ship reported seeing large amounts of blood streaming down the front of the elevator doors on the eighth and seventh floors.

Passenger Jonathan Niesen, 43 of Naples, said that while waiting for an elevator at the eighth floor at about 6:15 p.m., he heard what sounded like “rushing water,” according to the police report.

Niesen said blood started pouring down the door of the elevator. Blood continued dripping down the elevator door on the seventh floor, too, he said.

The ship was about 27 nautical miles from Grand Bahama Island on the way back to Miami after a three-day voyage at the time of the accident.

Carnival Cruise Line investigator John Butchko said a jumper cable was found on the elevator override system, which is a common practice used by electricians to override safety systems on elevators. Butchko told police that Opazo was “well-liked by all the staff” and thinks the likelihood of the incident being a deliberate act “would be next to impossible, due to the distance from the control room and the elevators on the ship” according to the police report.

The death was ruled accidental by a Miami-Dade County medical examiner.

Vance Gulliksen, a spokesman for Carnival Cruise Line, said the cruise line made procedural modifications and communicated with staff to avoid a similar accident happening in the future.

The accident gained international attention when a video of the elevator doors covered in blood was posted online by Fort Myers television station WFTX.

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