Published: Wed, July 10, 2019
Global News | By Blake Casey

Death of toddler on cruise ship a 'preventable tragedy' family's attorney says

Death of toddler on cruise ship a 'preventable tragedy' family's attorney says

Chloe Wiegand, the daughter of Alan and Kimberly Wiegand, of Granger, Ind., was in a clear-glass, enclosed children's play space aboard Royal Caribbean's Freedom of the Seas with her maternal grandfather, Salvatore Aiello, in the moments leading up to her death, her family's lawyer, Michael Winkleman, told NBC News.

Attorney Michael Winkleman spoke with reporters on behalf of the heartbroken family, Tuesday, to explain what happened Sunday night.

Puerto Rico Port Authority spokesman Jose Carmona said officials are investigating whether the window was already opened or if someone had opened it.

What's not in dispute is Chloe, with her family on Royal Caribbean's Freedom of the Seas while it was docked in San Juan, Puerto Rico, was in grandfather Sam Anello's grasp Sunday morning before she fell 11 stories to her death.

He did not say why Anello thought it was open but said: "He literally thought it was all glass".

"They want to get home as quickly as possible to grieve with their family", said Winkleman. Instead, she fell from a window that should never have been open. "There's a wood railing along there, he puts her on that thinking she's going to bang on the glass and it's going to be great, and the next thing he knows, she's gone". She wanted to bang on the glass like she did at her brother's hockey games, but there was no glass there to support her. In a statement, the department said it offers its "sincerest condolences" to the officer, and asked the community to pray for the family.

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Winkleman said she loved banging on the glass while watching her brother play hockey, and so her grandfather carried her to a wall described as a "wall of windows" in the children's play area on the 11th floor of the ship.

During a news conference on Tuesday, Mr Winkleman said there are many measures to prevent kids from falling out of windows, like screens, and questioned why there was ever an open window in an area designed for children to play in. "Why would you have that kind of hidden danger without any warning, without any sign, [or] without any notice?"

Winkleman added that there is video of the incident, which he said he hopes to view as soon as possible.

Wiegand was on vacation with her parents, grandparents and older brother from IN, according to their attorney. A spokeswoman said the ship departed Puerto Rico on Monday for St. Maarten on a new itinerary and declined further comment.

The attorney told the outlet that they believe Royal Caribbean is at fault in the accident. "We've made our Care Team available to assist the family in anyway possible", it reads.

It has not responded to the lawyer's allegations of negligence.

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