Skip to main content

Costa Concordia captain didn't fall, but jumped into lifeboat, crew member testifies

By Barbie Latza Nadeau, CNN
November 12, 2013 -- Updated 1543 GMT (2343 HKT)
The refloated wreck of the Costa Concordia is towed to the Italian port of Genoa on Sunday, July 27, to be scrapped, ending the ship's final journey two and a half years after it capsized at a cost of 32 lives. The refloated wreck of the Costa Concordia is towed to the Italian port of Genoa on Sunday, July 27, to be scrapped, ending the ship's final journey two and a half years after it capsized at a cost of 32 lives.
HIDE CAPTION
The Costa Concordia disaster
The Costa Concordia disaster
The Costa Concordia disaster
The Costa Concordia disaster
The Costa Concordia disaster
The Costa Concordia disaster
The Costa Concordia disaster
The Costa Concordia disaster
The Costa Concordia disaster
The Costa Concordia disaster
The Costa Concordia disaster
The Costa Concordia disaster
The Costa Concordia disaster
The Costa Concordia disaster
The Costa Concordia disaster
The Costa Concordia disaster
The Costa Concordia disaster
The Costa Concordia disaster
The Costa Concordia disaster
The Costa Concordia disaster
The Costa Concordia disaster
The Costa Concordia disaster
The Costa Concordia disaster
The Costa Concordia disaster
The Costa Concordia disaster
The Costa Concordia disaster
The Costa Concordia disaster
The Costa Concordia disaster
The Costa Concordia disaster
The Costa Concordia disaster
The Costa Concordia disaster
The Costa Concordia disaster
The Costa Concordia disaster
The Costa Concordia disaster
The Costa Concordia disaster
The Costa Concordia disaster
The Costa Concordia disaster
The Costa Concordia disaster
The Costa Concordia disaster
The Costa Concordia disaster
The Costa Concordia disaster
The Costa Concordia disaster
The Costa Concordia disaster
The Costa Concordia disaster
<<
<
1
2
3
4
5
6
7
8
9
10
11
12
13
14
15
16
17
18
19
20
21
22
23
24
25
26
27
28
29
30
31
32
33
34
35
36
37
38
39
40
41
42
43
44
>
>>
STORY HIGHLIGHTS
  • Stefano Iannelli says Capt. Francesco Schettino said, "What have I done"
  • The crew member says he saw no passengers on the ship when he, Schettino left
  • Engine room technician testifies that "10-foot jet of water hit my back"

Rome (CNN) -- The captain of the Costa Concordia did not "fall" into a lifeboat after the ship hit rocks, as he contends, a crew member testified. Instead, Francesco Schettino "jumped into the lifeboat," Stefano Iannelli said.

Schettino is on trial in Grosseto on charges of manslaughter and abandoning ship after 32 people died in the shipwreck off the Tuscan island of Giglio on January 13, 2012.

READ: Costa Concordia accident witnesses testify at captain's trial

Iannelli, who was on the bridge when the ship hit the outcropping, testified that Schettino's reaction was, "What have I done?!"

Was captain's girlfriend a distraction?
Timelapse shows raised Costa Concordia
Remains found on the Costa Concordia

As part of his defense for the abandoning ship charge, Schettino has maintained that by the time he left the crippled vessel, the inclination made it impossible to stay on the ship. He told the court at a hearing in October that the ship was literally falling on top of him and he fell into the lifeboat. The ship ended up lying on its side.

INTERACTIVE: How ill-fated cruise liner was raised from Italian seabed

Iannelli, who followed Schettino off the ship, testified Monday that he did not see passengers when they left the vessel, even though more than 1,000 people were later rescued from the ship. In a taped conversation between the captain and the port authority in Livorno, the port authority ordered Schettino to "get back on board" while passengers were still being rescued from the other side of the ship.

Schettino, who admits that he was in command when the ship veered off course and hit the rocks, also blames a malfunction of the ship's watertight doors for making the situation worse. His defense lawyers say that created a new emergency after the initial accident.

READ: Has master mariner in charge of salvage met his match?

On Tuesday, the court heard testimony from Hugo Di Piazza, a technician who was working in the engine room when Schettino hit the rocks.

The court heard a taped call from Di Piazza and the bridge in which he is heard saying that "something" had ripped a 70-meter (230-foot) gash in the hull and warning that the engine rooms were flooding.

"A 10-foot jet of water hit my back," Di Piazza told the court. He said he then closed the watertight doors but the "water infiltrated" the seals.

If the watertight doors had functioned, Schettino's defense maintains, the ship would have stayed upright and afloat despite the fact that it had picked up an 80-ton boulder from the seabed.

After losing power, the Costa Concordia glided past the port of Giglio and then made a 180-degree turn back toward the port before capsizing.

Di Piazza said he narrowly escaped the flooded engine rooms. "I opened other doors but the water kept rising," he told the court before describing how he and another technician escaped to the upper control platform and the engine room flooded.

The court also heard an intercepted telephone conversation a week after the accident in which Di Piazza said that Schettino seemed oblivious to the gravity of the situation.

"He didn't understand the situation. We were idiots and he didn't give a damn if we died," Di Piazza said.

After Tuesday's testimony from crew members, the trial will resume next week with testimony from traumatized passengers who survived the incident. Schettino is expected to testify before the end of the year.

Schettino argues that he is a hero who saved the lives of more than 4,000 people, not a villain whose negligence led to the deaths of 32. In addition to blaming the watertight doors, the captain's attorneys also say the ship would not have crashed had the helmsman turned it in the direction that Schettino told him to 13 seconds before impact.

The helmsman, Jacob Rusli Bin, and four others were convicted in a plea deal in July for their role in the disaster. A Florence court is considering the validity of those plea bargain agreements.

READ: Costa Concordia salvage: Island celebrations and relief

ADVERTISEMENT
Part of complete coverage on
The Costa Concordia disaster
December 2, 2014 -- Updated 1626 GMT (0026 HKT)
The captain of the wrecked Costa Concordia cruise ship faced questions over the change of course that led to its sinking.
November 4, 2014 -- Updated 1309 GMT (2109 HKT)
Nearly three years after the Costa Concordia cruise ship ran aground off Italy's Giglio Island, the remains of the final victim have been recovered.
July 27, 2014 -- Updated 2158 GMT (0558 HKT)
The crippled Costa Concordia cruise ship reached the end of its final voyage.
July 23, 2014 -- Updated 0804 GMT (1604 HKT)
When the ship and its salvage convoy finally depart Giglio, the residents of this picturesque island will breathe a sigh of relief -- and shed a tear.
July 14, 2014 -- Updated 1618 GMT (0018 HKT)
It may be the biggest salvage operation in history, but no one would accuse it of being the fastest.
July 14, 2014 -- Updated 1530 GMT (2330 HKT)
How long does it take? How much does it cost? Here is salvaging the Costa Concordia, by the numbers.
September 16, 2013 -- Updated 1736 GMT (0136 HKT)
The nautical blue paint spelling out "Costa Concordia" has almost all bubbled and chipped off the bow of the once luxurious cruise liner.
September 16, 2013 -- Updated 1521 GMT (2321 HKT)
The passengers weren't the only people whose lives were transformed by the Concordia disaster. So was the island/
September 16, 2013 -- Updated 1523 GMT (2323 HKT)
Nick Sloane: Has master mariner in charge of salvage met his match in the Costa Concordia?
September 17, 2013 -- Updated 1123 GMT (1923 HKT)
Browse our interactive to see how one of the largest cruise liners ever built will finally be raised from the Italian sea bed.
ADVERTISEMENT