Teen Survivor of Hate Crime Attack Jumps From Cruise Ship And Dies

HOUSTON, July 2 (AP) — A teenager who survived a brutal pipe beating and later testified before Congress in support of a hate crimes bill died after jumping from a cruise ship into the Gulf of Mexico, his father said Monday.

Officials with Carnival Cruise Lines said an 18-year-old jumped Sunday morning from the Ecstasy, a cruise ship en route from Galveston to Cozumel, Mexico. A man at the home of David Ritcheson identified himself as Ritcheson’s father and confirmed the death to The Associated Press.

He declined to give his name or comment further, saying the family would issue a statement later.

Carnival would not identify the victim, but Rick Dovalina, head of the Houston branch of the League of United Latin American Citizens, told the Houston Chronicle the victim was Ritcheson.

Ritcheson nearly died in April 2006 at a party in the Houston suburb of Spring when he was beaten, stomped, burned with cigarettes and sodomized with the plastic pole of a patio umbrella. His attackers poured bleach on him and left him for dead.

Prosecutors said the attack was racially motivated, in part because the Ritcheson is Mexican-American and one of his attackers espoused white-supremacist beliefs.