The lawyer of the grieving family whose one-year-old girl fell to her death from the 11th deck of a docked cruise ship in Puerto Rico says the toddler’s grandfather thought the open window she fell from was closed.
Toddler Chloe Wiegand, from Indiana, was in a clear-glass, enclosed play space aboard Royal Caribbean's Freedom of the Seas with her grandfather, Salvatore Anello, in the moments leading up to her death, her family's lawyer, Michael Winkleman, told a press conference on Tuesday.
In a tragic twist, Mr Anello allegedly placed the toddler on a railing on Sunday (local time) he believed was backed by glass so she could bang on the window in a way she would when she watched her brothers play hockey at an ice rink.
Mr Winkleman released an image of Chloe standing with her hands pressed against the glass at a hockey game.
Mr Winkleman said as soon as Mr Anello lifted the child onto the railing and she leaned forward, she disappeared out the window and fell 45 metres to her death in San Juan.
“The next thing you know, she's gone,” he told reporters.
Mr Anello and the girl’s parents, Alan and Kimberly Wiegand, reportedly had to be sedated as they struggled to comprehend Chloe’s death.
Police Sergeant Nelson Sotelo told The Associated Press on Tuesday the girl's family would remain in the US territory until the investigation of her death was completed.
Mr Anello is being investigated over the death.
Mr Wiegand, a police officer in Indiana’s South Bend, and his family are now waiting for the child's body to be released.
The lawyer says the family now wants to know why a window that "should have been closed securely" was open.
"Why in the world would you leave a window open in an entire glass wall full of windows in a kid's area?" he said at the press conference.
Mr Winkleman said there was no warning signs the window was open and he would now work to hold the cruise company accountable for their alleged “negligence”.
In the wake of Chloe’s death, Royal Caribbean released a statement on the incident saying they were "deeply saddened by [the] tragic incident, and our hearts go out to the family".
"We’ve made our Care Team available to assist the family with any resources they need.”
They failed to address claims from Mr Winkleman of alleged negligence in relation to the open window.
Puerto Rico Ports Authority spokesman José Carmona told The Associated Press officials were investigating whether the window was already opened or if someone had opened it.
With The Associated Press
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