Husband of the Model Who Drowned After Supposedly Trying to Save Dogs Set to be Charged: Police

Caroline Bittencourt died in São Paulo on April 28 after she fell out of the 16-foot catamaran she was on with her husband, Jorge Sestini

Jorge Sestini and Caroline BittencourtCR: Instagram

The husband of Brazilian model Caroline Bittencourt, who tragically died last week after she was swept overboard by a gale and drowned in a nasty storm, will be charged in connection to her death.

São Sebastião Civil Police announced on Monday that Jorge Sestini would be indicted for manslaughter after he allegedly ignored the signs for rough weather conditions and set sail for a trip to Ilhabela with his wife, O Estado de Sao Paulo reports.

Lead investigator/Delegate Vanderley Pagliarini decided that Sestini had been “negligent” following testimony from the marina owner Leonardo Oliveira, who claimed he issued multiple warnings to Sestini about the poor sailing conditions, according to G1 Global News.

On Friday, April 26, Oliveira said he advised the couple to be careful before they left, as a “northwest wind” was in the forecast, the outlet reports. He said a more urgent warning was issued again on Sunday, just an hour and a half ahead of the dangerous winds.

The owner also claimed he tried to contact them 15 minutes after the incident — at which point, Bittencourt and Sestini were both overboard (the latter had jumped in the waters in a bid to save his wife.)

Caroline Bittencourt
Caroline Bittencourt/Instagram

“Knowing the bad weather that was raging at that moment, the region, especially for those who were on board small boats, expressly warned in this regard, decided to launch into the sea, not providing at least that the victim wore a life jacket as he himself was concerned, indisputable negligence that refers to the basis of wrongful crimes,” Pagliarini said in a court document obtained by G1 Global News.

Sestini is not yet in police custody, as Pagliarini told G1 Global News that an indictment has been issued to the São Paulo police and they are now waiting for him to “come to the police station.”

If convicted, the outlet said Sestini could face one to three years in prison.

Sestini did not immediately respond to PEOPLE’s request for comment.

The deadly storm hit the couple’s catamaran on April 28. At the time of the incident, it was reported that Bittencourt, 37, had jumped out of the boat in an attempt to rescue her two dogs, who had fallen out of the vessel. Her family now says the dogs and the model fell overboard at the same time.

Directly after, Sestini dove in to save his wife. A few hours later, Sestini was found alive and brought to safety while his wife remained missing.

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On April 29, it was confirmed that the model had drowned after her body was discovered near Cigarras Beach in São Paulo.

Shortly after the incident, the model’s 17-year-old daughter, Isabelle Bittencourt, confirmed her mother’s sudden death on Instagram and also thanked everyone for the support her family has been receiving.

“We are grateful for the support and affectionate messages we have received from Carol’s friends and fans. This energy drive fills our hearts with so much love,” she wrote.

Caroline Bittencourt

Bittencourt’s modeling agency, OXYgen Models, also expressed their sympathy in the following statement to Globo: “We are grateful for all the trust she has placed in us in these years of work and partnership, our condolences to the friends and family of the victim.”

On Sunday, however, Isabelle issued another statement on Instagram on behalf of her and Sestini’s families, clarifying about the incident and explained that harsh winds — not the dogs — were the reason that her mother had fallen into the rocky waters.

“Approximately halfway through, they were surprised by very strong winds (bursts that went from 125km/h according to official records),” she explained. “These winds hurled Caroline and her two dogs to the sea.”

Despite the “super turbulent” and “very bad visibility” conditions, Isabelle said, “her husband immediately jumped into the sea to rescue her!”

“Both were adrift and, with all possible efforts and together, Caroline, unfortunately, could not stand to keep swimming and drowned,” she wrote. “Jorge, after swimming for about 3 hours, was rescued, late at night, by a boat that passed in the place.”

“Her departure left us devastated and with an immense sense of emptiness, after all, she was always very present,” she added. “Even with all the pain, we are praying and we have a lot of faith … that she is at peace and in the arms of the creator!”

According to G1 Global News, the Navy is continuing to investigate the incident.

A longtime model, Bittencourt has worked for high-fashion designers including Valentino Garavani and Roberto Cavalli. She also made appearances on RedeTV! and RecordTV — two of the major Brazilian television networks.

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