Husband of Brazilian Model Who Died at Sea Charged With Manslaughter

By Zachary Stieber

The husband of a Brazilian model who was found dead after jumping into the sea to rescue her dogs has been charged with manslaughter.

Carol Bittencourt, 37, was found dead on the coast of Sao Paulo, her agency confirmed on April 29.

Her husband of just three months, Jorge Sestini, 37, dove into the water after her, family members said, but wasn’t able to save his wife.

He was rescued by a passing boat several hours later.

Now Sestini has been charged with manslaughter because he allegedly ignored two warnings not to set sail amid inclement weather forecasts. Leonardo Oliveira, the owner of the marina from which the couple departed, said that he warned Sestini of dangerously strong winds but that the couple took off.

“We believe Jorge risked the life of Caroline and himself when he apparently ignored warnings about the impending bad weather,” São Sebastião Civil Police detective Vanderley Pagliarini told the Daily Mail.

“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. 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.”

While Bittencourt’s father disputed reports that his daughter leaped from the boat to try to save her dogs, other family members said in a statement posted to Instagram that the dogs were with her when she died.

The family said strong winds hit the boat as the couple made their way between Ilhabela and São Sebastião, toward the city of São Paulo.

“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!” the family wrote.

“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.”

Sestini and Bittencourt were married in January.