Cruise ship toddler 'fell after leaning through open window' as family blame Royal Caribbean for tragedy

Chloe Wiegand fell to her death from a luxury cruise ship (Family handout)
Chloe Wiegand fell to her death from a luxury cruise ship (Family handout)

The family of a toddler who fell to her death on a luxury cruise ship have questioned why the window she fell from was left open.

Police in Puerto Rico had said 18-month-old Chloe Wiegand apparently slipped from her grandfather's hands on Sunday as he was holding her out of an 11th-floor window on the Royal Caribbean’s Freedom of the Seas.

But Michael Winkleman, a Miami lawyer who is representing the girl's family, said Chloe plunged from an open window that her grandfather believed was glass, according to the family’s lawyer.

He added that "the story is not as it had originally been portrayed in the media”.

He said in a statement: "The grandfather didn't drop the child, the child fell due to an open glass pane that should have been closed securely.”

 The Royal Caribbean Freedom of the Seas, which carries 4,515 passengers and 1,360 crew, and the Celebrity Reflection, which carries 3,609 passengers and 1271 crew, in the harbor of George Town, Grand Cayman in the Cayman Islands on Tuesday, December 20, 2016. The smaller boat is a tender to ferry passengers back and forth to the island. Credit: Ron Sachs / CNP *** Please Use Credit from Credit Field ***
Chloe plunged to her death from an 11th floor window on the Freedom of the Seas (PA/file photo)

Mr Winkleman said Chloe’s family wants to know why a window that "should have been closed securely" was open.

He said the family is "understandably too distraught to talk" about the tragedy.

"The family needs answers as to why there would be an open window in a wall full of fixed windows in a kids' play area? Why would you have the danger without any warning, sign, or notice?" he asked.

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Mr Winkleman said Chloe, whose father is a police officer, was playing with her grandfather in the "kids' water zone" on the ship as it was docked in Puerto Rico when she asked him to lift her to a wall of windows lining the play area.

"Chloe wanted to bang on the glass like she always did at her older brother's hockey games. Her grandfather thought there was glass just like everywhere else, but there was not, and she was gone in an instant," Mr Winkleman said.

Police in Puerto Rico declined to comment on Mr Winkleman's account of the events leading up to the child's fatal fall.

Chloe's grandfather Salvatore Anello is said to have thought an open window was glass (Facebook)
Chloe's grandfather Salvatore Anello is said to have thought an open window was glass (Facebook)

But Sgt Jose D Sanchez, the acting head of the San Juan Police Department's Homicide Division, said that they had not ruled out murder as an option.

He told MailOnline: “There are various possibilities. It could be a homicide. It could be a murder. It could be an accident.

“We are currently in the very early stages of the investigation. We haven't ruled out any possibility.”

Royal Caribbean Cruises called the girl's death a tragic incident in a statement on Monday and said it was helping the family.

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

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