PUERTO RICO (KFDX/KJTL)- Police are investigating the death of an Indiana toddler who fell from the 11th deck of a cruise ship on Sunday.
Miami attorney Michael Winkleman disputes reports that the grandfather accidentally dropped the 18-month old, putting the blame on Royal Caribbean, and how the room was designed.
It happened on Royal Caribbean’s Freedom of the Seas.
Chloe Wiegand and her grandfather were in a play area for kids. He put the toddler up on a wood railing running along a wall of glass not realizing one of the glass panels was actually open.
“He puts her up on there thinking that she’s gonna bang on the glass, and it’s gonna be great, and she goes to bang on the glass, and the next thing he knows, she’s gone.” Winkleman said. “Why would you ever, in a kids play area, put windows that passengers can open? It was reasonable for Sam, the grandfather, to think that this was all glass.”
The Wiegand family is from South Bend, Indiana, where the father is a local police officer.
The department has put out a statement, “the South Bend Police Department offers its sincerest condolences to officer Alan Wiegand and his family during this difficult time following the tragic loss of their child while in Puerto Rico.”
A Royal Caribbean release says the company is, “deeply saddened” and expresses sympathies for the family.
At the time, the ship was docked in San Juan.
Puerto Rico police are investigating, and the family remains on the island.
This particular ship went into service in 2006, and the family attorney notes that the newer cruise ships don’t have the same configuration, meaning passengers on those ships cannot open those glass windows.
The cruise lines international association say ships have actually gotten safer, pointing out that while capacity has grown by 55 percent over the last decade, overboard incidents have dropped by 35 percent.