The family of a toddler from Indiana, who fell to her death from a height of 150 ft.
from a Royal Caribbean Cruise ship, are putting the blame on the liner.
According to their narrative, the child fell from a window that was left open in the children play area. They have also shared photos of the spot to prove how difficult it is to notice the open window.
Chloe Wiegand fell from the Freedom of the Seas ship onto a solid concrete dock, dying instantaneously. The tragic incident happened in San Juan, Puerto Rico.
The local authorities initially issued a report saying her grandfather was holding her in his arms and she fell because the old man lost his grasp on her.
Chloe and her grandfather Salvatore Anello were on the 11th floor of the ship which has a kids’ pool, called the H2O zone. It is an open-air play area, covered by windows on both sides.
The family’s lawyer revealed that Anello was holding Chloe against the wooden railing to let her bang on the glass, which she loved doing. He had no idea that the window could be open.
As soon as the poor child leaned forward to bang her hands on the window, there was no glass and she went straight through the open space, falling like a stone to the concrete floor below.
Witnesses report that she let out a ‘blood curdling’ scream on her way down from the ship.
The lawyer established that Anello just didn’t see the window was open and propped the poor child against it. He also made it clear that Anello wasn’t drunk at the time.
‘We’ve all had that experience where someone walks into a glass door thinking it’s not there. This is the inverse of that,’ said Michael Winkleman, the family’s lawyer in his statement.
The photos of the site of this gruesome incident taken by Chloe’s father after the incident show one of the windows is open while all others in the vicinity are closed.
Speaking of the incident in a press conference held in Miami, Winkleman stated that Chloe and her grandfather were playing in the play area when he noticed the windows and decided to take the child to them.
‘The grandfather is with Chloe, they’re playing and there’s this wall of all windows, it’s all glass windows,’ he said.
‘Chloe used to love to bang on the glass at her brother’s ice hockey games, so her grandfather takes her over to the windows, he thinks it is all glass.
‘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.’
Talking about why Anello thought the window couldn’t be open, Winkleman said: ‘He literally thought it was all glass. Clearly, he was wrong.’
When asked if the old man was drunk at that time, Winkleman replied: ‘There was absolutely no alcohol involved, Sam is not a drinker.’
Winkleman said the tragedy could have been prevented. He said it is very irresponsible to place a window in such a high location that the passengers can easily open. He further said that Anello’s assumption of the wall being all glass was totally reasonable.
The family is striving to hold the cruise ship company liable for the loss.
‘Why would you have that kind of danger without any sign without any warning without any notice?’ the lawyer said.
‘I do think there is going to be blame and significant blame on the cruise line. I will do everything I can to hold them accountable for what appears to me to be negligence,’ he continued.
Local authorities told Puerto Rican newspaper El Vocero that Chloe’s parents and her granddad were so distraught after the accident that they had to be sedated.
Winkleman said that Anello kept muttering after the incident: ‘I thought it was like she was at a hockey game.’
The child’s family, who is in Puerto Rico since the incident, said that ‘she was such a happy and loving child.’
A statement from Royal Caribbean said that it was extremely saddened by the tragic incident. ‘We’ve made our Care Team available to assist the family with any resources they need. Out of respect for their privacy, we do not plan to comment further on the incident,’ the statement added.
The cruise liner hasn’t yet responded to Winkleman’s claims of the criminal negligence on their part. He has asked the company to provide the surveillance footage of the incident.
Chloe, her elder brother, parents, and grandparents were on a one-week Caribbean cruise. Her father is a cop in South Bend Indiana Police department.
After speaking to the prosecutors in Puerto Rico, the family wants to get home as soon as possible, their lawyer said.
‘They want to get home as quickly as possible. Chloe’s body was going to be released, they were working with authorities. They want to leave immediately,’ he said.
Puerto Rican prosecutors have asked the cruise company to provide the security camera footage of the unfortunate event. According to the prosecutors, the old man was playing some sort of a game with the toddler when he happened to lose grip, causing her to fall.